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Govt to prioritize lobbying Iran, carefully weigh coalition

The Yomiuri Shimbun The government will prioritize lobbying Tehran to ease tensions over the Iranian situation, while taking time to coordinate with Washington over a U.S.-proposed international coalition to safeguard waters in and around the Strait of Hormuz.

The government will carefully study whether to join the planned multinational coalition because Tokyo remains unsure of the real intentions of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, and also because it still aims to help ease tensions between the two countries through its diplomatic channels with Iran.

Unlike in the Gulf War in 1991 and the Afghanistan War in 2001, the government believes Japan is not required to take immediate action on the coalition plan. In addition, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton reportedly did not strongly urge Japan to join the coalition during his visit to the country on Monday. The government thus plans to calmly consider U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s request to join the coalition and spend more time coordinating with the United States on how Japan can contribute to the situation.

A Japan-U.S. foreign ministers’ meeting is scheduled for next week on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum in Bangkok. However, a senior Foreign Ministry official said, “Nothing will be decided [at the talks].”

For the time being, the government intends to prioritize lobbying Iran, which has maintained friendly relations with Japan over the years.

“If the coalition takes on the feel of being strongly confrontational toward Iran, it will be difficult for Japan to participate,” said a senior ministry official.

The government is also exploring the possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, and will continue to make diplomatic efforts aimed at easing tensions. It plans to explain its position to the United States.Speech

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