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International relations

Japan urges Iran to take 'constructive approach' to Biden overtures

Tokyo's strong ties with Tehran and Washington could give it role in deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif looks on during a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran.   © Reuters

TOKYO --  Iran should have a "constructive approach" when dealing with the Biden administration, which has reached out to Tehran on restarting nuclear talks, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told his Iranian counterpart in a 40-minute telephone conversation.

"We will continue our active diplomatic efforts, drawing on our alliance with the U.S. and our traditionally friendly relationship with Iran," Motegi told Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to a statement released by the Japanese side.

Zarif pushed for talks with the Barack Obama administration and other nations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal in which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear activity that could support weapon development and allow surprise inspections in return for a suspension of international sanctions.

The U.S., however, left the agreement under President Donald Trump in 2018, and Iran subsequently said it would not suspend portions of the agreement. The Biden administration has been looking to restart talks for both countries to reenter the agreement.

Japan, for its part, has maintained normal diplomatic relations with Iran for decades, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting the country in 2019. Tokyo is seen as uniquely positioned to help facilitate a deal.

Motegi, however, expressed his "strong concern" that Iran has stopped accepting unannounced inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, urging the country to adhere to the nuclear agreement.

Zarif expressed appreciation for Japan's diplomatic efforts and thanked Tokyo for its support in the medical and environmental fields.

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