President Donald Trump on Monday backed the Japanese prime minister’s interest in using his country’s good relations with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue between the US and its nemesis in the Middle East.
Trump, who has said he’s open to having a dialogue with Iran, has sought to downplay fears of military conflict, but the Iranians have said they have no interest in communicating with the White House.
Trump commented during a day that opened with the high pageantry of his meeting with Japan’s emperor but quickly gave way to deliberations over thorny global issues, including North Korea, trade tensions with his Japanese host and the escalating friction between the US and Iran.
“I know that the prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran so we’ll see what happens,” he said while meeting with Abe in Tokyo.
“The prime minister’s already spoken to me about that and I do believe that Iran would like to talk. And if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also. We’ll see what happens ... nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”
Trump has imposed tough new sanctions on Iran, which are crippling its economy. Late last week, he announced the deployment of 1,500 US troops to the region amid escalating tensions. The US earlier deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of Iranian threats to US interests in the region.
Trump and Abe held discussions after the US president became the first world leader to meet Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, who ascended to the throne May 1.