Japan’s Abe to visit Iran next week

Local media have said Abe will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 June 2019
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Japan’s Abe to visit Iran next week

  • A government official told AFP that Tokyo was “still arranging details, including whom our prime minister will meet there”
  • Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship as resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imports of oil from the Middle East

TOKYO: Shinzo Abe plans to travel to Iran next week, officials said Thursday, the first visit by a Japanese prime minister in more than four decades as Tokyo hopes to mediate between Washington and Tehran.
A government official told AFP that Tokyo was “still arranging details, including whom our prime minister will meet there” but local media have said Abe will hold talks with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
Local news agency Kyodo reported it would be the first such visit for 41 years.
As tensions intensify between Iran and Japan’s key ally the United States, Abe has reportedly proposed serving as a go-between by directly holding talks with Iran’s key leaders.
During his state visit to Tokyo in late May, US President Donald Trump said he remained open to talks with Tehran, appearing to give the green light to Abe’s plan.
Abe told a news conference with Trump: “By closely cooperating between Japan and the US, I would like to help ease the current tension surrounding the Iranian situation.”
Japan and Iran have maintained a good relationship as resource-poor Japan relies heavily on imports of oil from the Middle East, though crude from Iran accounted for just 5.3 percent of the country’s total imports last year.
On the other hand, Iranian and US leaders have ratcheted up barbs and insults ever since Trump was elected as president in 2016.
Living up to his campaign promises, Trump withdrew the US in May 2018 from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers, and reimposed sanctions.
The war of words intensified after Iran’s revolutionary guards were designated a “terrorist organization,” with Tehran hitting back by declaring the US a “state sponsor of terrorism” and Washington’s forces in the region “terrorist groups.”
Fears the war of words could flare into a military clash escalated when Washington dispatched the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault ship, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers to the region.


16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day rally

Updated 5 min 33 sec ago
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16 dead in crush at Madagascar independence day rally

  • The accident occurred outside Mahamasina Stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark National Day

ANTANANARIVO: At least 16 people were crushed to death and dozens injured in Madagascar on Wednesday at a stadium hosting national independence day celebrations in the capital Antananarivo.
The bodies of sixteen victims, including three children, were stored at the mortuary of HJRA hospital in the city, AFP journalists said.
Hospital director Oliva Alison Rakoto had earlier reported 15 dead and 80 wounded.
According to witnesses at the hospital, the accident occurred in the afternoon outside the Mahamasina stadium, where several thousand people had gathered for a concert following the traditional military parade held to mark the national holiday.
At the end of a military parade, security forces opened the gates to allow spectators to leave the enclosure, causing the crowd to mass outside the stadium, witnesses said.
The police then immediately closed the gates and blocked the crowd, witnesses said, causing a deadly pile up.
“When the organizers opened the gate, we were in the front row, in the queue,” said Jean Claude Etienne Rakotoarimanana, 29, who suffered bruises from the crush.
“Suddenly people ran to get in front of us. They shoved us, some even punched us and pulled us,” he added, saying he then fainted.
In September 2018, a deadly crush killed one person and injured 30 people in similar circumstances at the entrance of the same stadium during a football match between Madagascar and Senegal.