The Latest: Japan PM mulls Iran visit to mediate crisis
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):
Japanese media say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering a visit to Iran next month amid rising tension between Tehran and Washington, and will consult with President Donald Trump about it when he arrives in Tokyo this weekend.
The Kyodo News agency, citing unidentified government sources, said on Friday that Abe’s visit would be likely in mid-June.
Abe, who reportedly hopes to serve as mediator between the U.S. and Iran, will seek Trump’s consent during his upcoming visit, starting Saturday.
The report comes a week after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Tokyo.
Japan was a major oil importer from Iran before the sanctions. If he goes, Abe will be a first Japanese leader to visit Iran since 1978 — before the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran’s foreign minister has lashed out during a visit to Islamabad at Donald Trump, assailing the American president for his tweet this week warning Iran not to threaten the U.S. again or it would face its “official end.”
Mohammad Javad Zarif says “Iran will see the end of Trump, but he will never see the end of Iran.”
The remarks came during Zarif’s visit to Islamabad on Friday where he was thought to be seeking Islamabad’s help to help de-escalate the situation in the Persian Gulf amid the crisis between Tehran and Washington.
Zarif also chastised the Trump administration for designating last month Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard force as a terrorist group — the first such U.S. designation for an entire division of another government.
The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Zarif as saying that though Trump “accused the Iranian nation several times with this title (terrorist), he is the one that deserves it.”
Iran’s foreign minister is being quoted as warning of anarchy in the Mideast if world powers do not unite to stop what he called U.S. aggression — Iran’s official parlance for Washington’s pressure on Tehran.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA says Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke in Islamabad, where he held talks Friday with top Pakistani officials.
Zarif says “we are witnessing today how the U.S. ,with its bullying approach, is putting sanctions on Iran” and adds that “regional states have to stand up against the sanctions for their own interests.”
Zarif has been criticized by name this week by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said he and President Hassan Rouhani failed to implement Khamenei’s orders over Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan during a visit to the capital, Islamabad, ahead of next week’s emergency Arab League meeting called because of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf region.
A brief statement from Khan’s office says only that bilateral issues were discussed during the meeting on Friday.
Iran and Pakistan share a troubled 900-kilometer-long border, or about 560 miles, and Tehran says that anti-Iranian Sunni Muslim militants have found safe havens in Pakistan’s border province of Baluchistan.
Oman’s Foreign Ministry says it’s working to “ease the tensions” between Iran and the U.S.
The ministry in a series of tweets on Friday morning attributed the comments to Yusuf bin Alawi, the sultanate’s minister of state for foreign affairs. They were published in Asharq Al-Wasat, the London-based newspaper owned by a Saudi media group long associated with the Al Saud royal family.
Bin Alawi warns war “could harm the entire world if it breaks out.” He doesn’t confirm any current Omani mediation but says both the U.S. and Iran realize the gravity of the situation.
Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said spoke last week by telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Oman long has been an interlocutor of the West with Iran. The U.S. held secret talks in Oman with the Iranians that gave birth to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran’s foreign minister is in Pakistan on a critically timed visit amid a crisis between Tehran and Washington and ahead of next week’s emergency Arab League meeting called by Saudi Arabia as regional tensions escalate.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was holding talks on Friday with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Ahead of his arrival in Islamabad, Pakistan’s foreign ministry had called on “all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move, can transmute into a large-scale conflict.”
Tensions have ratcheted up in recent months and the U.S. sent additional warships and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.
Pakistan walks a fine line with neighboring Iran, despite their sometimes prickly relationship, and ally Saudi Arabia, which this week announced a $3.2 billion deferred oil and gas payment package for energy-strapped Islamabad.