Tokyo suggests mediation in American-Iranian talks
President Donald Trump backed the Japanese prime minister's interest in using his country's good relations with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue between the U.S. and its nemesis in the Middle East. NBCnews reports in its article Trump says he backs Japan's efforts to talk with Iran that 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 U.S. 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 U.S. troops to the region amid escalating tensions. The U.S. earlier deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of Iranian threats to U.S. interests in the region. Trump and Abe held discussions after the U.S. president became the first world leader to meet Japan's new emperor, Naruhito, who ascended to the throne May 1.
As he sat with Abe, Trump noted the significance of meeting the emperor. Naruhito took the throne after his father stepped down, the first abdication in Japan's royal family in about two centuries. It was Abe, not the emperor, who invited the president — a move meant to curry favor with the Trump, who is threatening to impose potentially devastating tariffs on Japan's auto industry. Trump has suggested he will impose the levies if the U.S. can't win concessions from Japan and the European Union. Japan's trade surplus surged almost 18% in April to 723 billion yen ($6.6 billion).
Trump said he wants to get "the balance of trade ... straightened out rapidly." "I think we will be announcing some things probably in August that will be very good for both countries," Trump said, adding that Japan has "been doing much more business with us and we'd like to do a little bit more business in the reverse." Trump said he had a good feeling that the nuclear standoff with North Korea will be resolved. "I may be right, I may be wrong. But I feel that we've come a long way. There's been no rocket testing, there's been no nuclear testing," he said.
North Korea has not tested long-range missiles that could hit the United States. But earlier this month, North Korea fired off a series of short-range missiles that alarmed U.S. allies in closer proximity to North Korea. National Security Adviser John Bolton said violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. The tests broke a pause in North Korea's ballistic missile launches that began in late 2017. North Korea on Monday called Bolton a "war monger" and "defective human product" after he called the tests on May 4 and May 9 a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The tests have been seen as a way for North Korea to pressure Washington to soften its stance on easing sanctions against it without actually causing the negotiations to collapse.
"We'll see what happens," Trump said in Tokyo. "There's a good respect built — maybe a great respect built — between certainly the United States and North Korea. We will see what happens."