Ja­pan, Oman work to defuse United States-Iran ten­sion

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Ja­pan is on the same page as Oman in de­fus­ing re­gional ten­sion that in­volves Iran and the US, and achiev­ing sta­bil­ity in the re­gion is high on its agenda, said a Ja­pa­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman.

Oh­taka Masato, as­sis­tant for­eign min­is­ter and di­rec­tor gen­eral for press and public di­plo­macy, was in Oman with Ja­pa­nese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe as part of his Mid­dle East visit that also took him to UAE and Saudi Ara­bia. Abe was also in the sul­tanate to of­fi­cially con­vey his coun­try’s con­do­lences on the demise of His Majesty Sul­tan Qa­boos bin Said.

“We are very closely in touch with the US and Iran, and this en­ables us to play a vi­tal diplo­matic role. As Oman has ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters that in­clude the Strait of Hor­muz, it is an im­por­tant coun­try from a geopo­lit­i­cal stand­point. It also has a for­eign pol­icy of hav­ing good re­la­tions with all its neigh­bours and holds a me­di­at­ing po­si­tion. It also main­tains friendly re­la­tions with Iran,” Masato said.

Asked if he thought the war be­tween the United States and Iran was im­mi­nent, Masato was non-com­mit­tal.

“This is a mil­lion-dol­lar ques­tion. I don’t want to make any pre­dic­tions at this point. I’m al­ways in­ter­ested in hear­ing any­body’s views. But I do think that all coun­tries in the re­gion as well as the rest of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity share their wish that se­ri­ous mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion will be avoided. We see signs of self re­straint and some coun­tries seem to be dis­creet but it is im­por­tant for like-minded coun­tries in­clud­ing Oman to con­tinue diplo­matic ef­forts to push for peace­ful means to re­solve the is­sue,” he told Mus­cat Daily.

He said that any mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion that might take place in the re­gion will have pro­found im­pact.

“While in the sul­tanate, Omani and Ja­pa­nese lead­ers ex­changed views on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and what needs to be done to defuse ten­sion. Our lead­ers agreed that fur­ther es­ca­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion needs to be avoided. Prime Min­is­ter Abe men­tioned that any mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion will have an im­pact on the peace and sta­bil­ity of not only the re­gion but also the world. I don’t want to go into much de­tail on what we dis­cussed, but I must say that Ja­pan was the only coun­try from Asia that had been en­gag­ing on this is­sue,” Masato said.

Masato also spoke of Ja­pan’s plans to dis­patch naval ves­sels to the Gulf.

“The de­ploy­ment of Ja­pa­nese mar­itime as­sets needs to be un­der­stood cor­rectly. They are only for in­for­ma­tion gath­er­ing and for self-de­fence,” he said.

Dur­ing the visit, the two coun­tries agreed to in­crease trade in ar­eas in­clud­ing en­ergy.

“The ob­jec­tive of our visit also was to con­form strength­en­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions in a wide range of ar­eas, based on the com­pre­hen­sive part­ner­ship to­wards sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity,” Masato said. On Ja­pan’s stand­point of the GCC sit­u­a­tion in re­gards to Qatar is­sues, Masato said, “Ja­pan is closely fol­low­ing the sit­u­a­tion in GCC in re­gards to Qatar ten­sions but we do feel that con­sol­i­da­tion and stronger unity among GCC coun­tries will al­ways be help­ful. This will also ap­ply to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and would wel­come any me­di­a­tions,” he said.

Ja­pa­nese Prime Min­is­ter was in the re­gion as ten­sions spiked af­ter the US as­sas­si­na­tion of a top Ira­nian gen­eral. Tokyo and Tehran have main­tained diplo­matic re­la­tions for decades.

(AFP)

A hand­out pic­ture released by the Oman News Agency shows H H Sayyid Fatik bin Fahr al Said (right) re­ceiv­ing Prime Min­is­ter of Ja­pan Shinzo Abe upon his ar­rival in Mus­cat on Jan­uary 14 to of­fer his con­do­lences to the Royal fam­ily fol­low­ing the death of His Majesty Sul­tan Qa­boos bin Said

Oh­taka Masato

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