Prior to his momentous trip to Asia, President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the United States’ “cruel and unlawful” sanctions against Iran will not be sustainable as world nations seek to foster friendly relations with the Islamic Republic.
“The conditions caused by the cruel pressure and illegal US sanctions will not be sustainable. All countries want to have close relations with Iran, especially the ones with whom we have traditionally enjoyed good relations,” Rouhani said before departing Tehran for the Malaysian capital to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit, which is set to take place from December 18 to 21.
The event, themed “The Role of Development in Achieving National Security,” will gather around 450 leaders, scholars and thinkers from 52 countries including Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, Qatar, and Turkey.
Fifty-two countries have confirmed their participation in the event, which will pursue solutions to problems gripping the Muslim world.
“The Muslim world has vast potential when it comes to geography, energy, population, industry and culture, but it is unfortunately grappling with issues such as armed conflicts and terrorism” in addition to foreign intervention, Rouhani said.
He said Iran and Malaysia have “common views” regarding the developments in the region and the Muslim world, describing diplomacy as the sole way to resolve the issues.
Rouhani said he would highlight Iran’s peace initiative for the Persian Gulf region at the Kuala Lumpur meeting.
He initially introduced the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) in September at a meeting of the UN General Assembly.
President Rouhani also said he would hold multilateral meetings with senior Malaysian officials as well as leaders from different participating countries on the sidelines of the event.
Wrapping up his three-day stay in Malaysia, Rouhani will then head to Tokyo for a visit upon an official invitation by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.
Rouhani on Japan visit
Regarding his upcoming state visit to Japan, Rouhani said he would discuss mutual Tehran-Tokyo ties as well issues related to regional security, particularly for shipping lines, during his meeting with PM Abe.
Hailing economic ties between Iran and Japan, the president said Japanese companies made sizeable economic investment in Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and that “currently, we are in close talks on environmental issues.”
He said the current decline in Iran-Japan relations is temporary and a by-product of Washington’s “illegal and cruel” sanctions.
Rouhani will be the first Iranian president to visit the Asian country since 2000. The visit comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US.
Back in June, Abe traveled to Iran on a first visit by a Japanese premier in more than 40 years.
Abe said in his meetings with Iranian officials that Japan sought to play a maximum role in easing tensions between Iran and the United States.
Japan maintains friendly ties with both Iran and the US has previously tried to reduce tensions between the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah.
Tensions have heightened between Tehran and Washington since last year when President Donald Trump pulled out the United States from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions to cripple Iranian economy.
“Our country will persistently continue to support diplomatic efforts in cooperation with the United States, Iran and various other related countries aimed at easing tensions in the Middle East,” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference on Tuesday.
He said the two leaders will meet on Dec. 20.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said that Rouhani’s visit that will be in line with the national interest of both countries.
“Japan’s foreign policy is based on courage and farsightedness and this has been proved for many times in historical ties between the two countries,” Araqchi said.
Araqchi said the one-day visit will be "very intense" and that it comes as Iran faces maximum pressure from the United States and a wide array of conspiracies to isolate it internationally.
“When Iran is facing a US policy of maximum pressure and all kinds of plots to isolate Iran, we are witnessing that on the 90th anniversary of the two countries' relations, the heads of (state of) Iran and Japan travel to their capitals,” Araqchi said.
Japan plans to deploy Maritime Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East. Iran has rejected the presence of foreign forces in the region, saying it would create insecurity for oil and shipping.
Tokyo has decided not to be part of a US-led coalition on maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the world’s oil industry, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency said.
Kyodo added that the Japanese deployment will be sent to the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, citing a draft plan.
The news agency, citing a source, said Rouhani will tell Abe that the Iranian government would not oppose the deployment.
The Nikkei business daily had previously said that Japan’s government would propose deploying one escort ship and patrol aircraft from the Maritime Self-Defense Force on a one-year mission that could be renewed annually.
It plans to finalize the plan by year-end, the Nikkei has reported.
Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.