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Japan Shinzo Abe in Tehran for talks to ease US-Iran tension

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reached Tehran for talks in a bid to ease tensions between Iran and the US.

Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Iran in four decades and is due to meet the country’s leaders.

The US sweeping sanctions on Iran in a bid to stifle its economy has angered Tehran. Observers though doubt what Mr Abe can achieve, seeing it as an image boost for him before elections.

Iranian state television carried live pictures of Mr Abe’s arrival. He was expected to go straight into talks with President Hassan Rouhani and to meet Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday.

Officially, Japan and Iran are marking the 90th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship this year.

Much more significant is that the trip comes shortly after US President Donald Trump made a state visit to Japan, a key US ally.

US relations with Iran nosedived over Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Tensions escalated further when the US sent an aircraft carrier to the region, raising fears of a military confrontation.