Tokyo: Shinzo Abe plans to travel to Iran next week, officials said Thursday, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in more than four decades as Tokyo hopes to mediate between Washington and Tehran. A government official told AFP that Tokyo was “still arranging details, including whom our prime minister will meet there” but local media have said Abe will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’Local news agency Kyodo reported it would be the first such visit for 41 years. As tensions intensify between Iran and Japan’s key ally the United States, Abe has reportedly proposed serving as a go-between by directly holding talks with Iran’s key leaders. During his state visit to Tokyo in late May, US President Donald Trump said he remained open to talks with Tehran, appearing to give the green light to Abe’s plan. Abe told a news conference with Trump: “By closely cooperating between Japan and the US, I would like to help ease the current tension surrounding the Iranian situation.” Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship as resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imports of oil from the Middle East, though crude from Iran accounted for just 5.3 percent of the country’s total imports last year. On the other hand, Iranian and US leaders have ratcheted up barbs and insults ever since Trump was elected as president in 2016. Living up to his campaign promises, Trump withdrew the US in May 2018 from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers, and reimposed sanctions.
Laayoune – International observers in the southern region of Laayoune lauded on Friday the smooth conduct of parliamentary elections.In a statement to MAP, Karongozi Andre Martin, from the Belgian association of lawyers without borders, hailed “the very good atmosphere in the polling stations” in Laayoune, adding that “the voting process took place in good conditions without any incident.”He also highlighted the strong enthusiasm of the voters in the region. For his part, French professor of constitutional law Christophe Boutin, who observed the elections in Tarfaya (Laâyoune region), noted that the voting process took place in full transparency, adding that “there was no pressure either outside or inside the polling stations.