Japan Prime Minister Abe makes historic trip to Tehran to ease US-Iran tensions

Shinzo Abe arrived in Tehran on a mission to ease tensions between Iran and the U.S., becoming the first Japanese prime minister to visit since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Abe’s flight touched down at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

His visit is seen as an effort to mediate amid rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region. Just ahead of his arrival, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels attacked one of the kingdom’s airports, wounding 26 people.

The Houthis said they fired a cruise missile at the Abha regional airport.

Though there were no fatalities, it was the largest number of civilians to be wounded in Saudi Arabia as a result of a rebel attack.

The heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington take root in President Donald Trump’s decision a year ago to withdraw from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is greeted by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at Tehran's Mehrabad airport on June 12, 2019. Abe arrived in Tehran for a rare diplomatic mission, hoping to defuse tensions between the Islamic republic and Tokyo's ally Washington. (Photo: Ali Taghavi, AFP/Getty Images)

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Iran’s president says that U.S. pressures against his country are losing strength – the latest defiant rhetoric from Hassan Rouhani amid tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

Rouhani spoke during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, hours ahead of the arrival of Abe.

Iranian state TV quoted Rouhani as saying that “America’s pressure on the Iranian nation … has reached its maximum. From today onward, the threats and pressures will lose their capacity and will be exhausted.”

Rouhani was referring to America’s pullout from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers over a year ago, which is at the root of the current tensions. The tensions further soared over the U.S. recently deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region.

Abe is expected to try to save the increasingly unraveling nuclear deal and ease tensions in between Iran and the United States.

In addition, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry says an Omani envoy is in Baghdad to discuss ways of de-escalating U.S.-Iran tensions.

Spokesman Ahmad Sahhaf told The Associated Press that Yusuf bin Alawi will discuss “solutions” for regional challenges, adding that Iraq has become a pivotal country because of its “strategic relations with both Iran and the United States.”

The Sultanate of Oman often plays a role in mediating regional crises. 

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