Iran General NewsJapan, US talk on new opening with Iran

Japan, US talk on new opening with Iran

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ImageAFP: Senior envoys from Japan, which has longstanding ties with Iran, held talks in Washington as the United States tries to chart a new course with the Islamic republic, officials said Friday.

ImageWASHINGTON (AFP) — Senior envoys from Japan, which has longstanding ties with Iran, held talks in Washington as the United States tries to chart a new course with the Islamic republic, officials said Friday.

Toshiro Suzuki, the Japanese foreign ministry's Middle East and Africa chief, and Akio Shirota, the ambassador to Iran, held several days of talks in the US capital, a Japanese embassy official said.

They met Thursday with policymakers from the White House's National Security Council, a White House official said.

Tatsuo Arima, Japan's special envoy on the Middle East, is due Saturday to start his own four-day visit to Washington which will include talks with his US counterpart, former senator George Mitchell.

Arima will discuss events in the Middle East and "what kind of policy the international community should take in the future," a Japanese foreign ministry statement said.

President Barack Obama has vowed to turn a new page with Iran, sending an unprecedented video appeal for the Persian New Year.

Japan, in a rare policy break with the United States, has maintained cordial political relations and business ties with Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the pro-Western shah.

In 2006, however, Japan pulled out of a project to develop Iran's biggest oil field of Azadegan due to concerns over Tehran's nuclear program.

Japan, the world's second largest economy, has also been seeking a more active role in the Middle East peace process. Japan is spearheading a major agro-industrial complex in the West Bank in hopes of reducing unemployment among Palestinians.

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