Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should work together to de-escalate the tense situation in the Gulf, a Japanese foreign ministry official said on Monday, relaying comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The official said Japan’s strong relationship with both the United States and Iran enabled it to play a diplomatic role in defusing heightened regional tensions following the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander General Qassem Soleimani and a retaliatory missile attack by Iran on U.S. forces in Iraq.
As part of a Middle Eastern tour, Abe met UAE leaders in Abu Dhabi on Monday after having been to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. He will head to Oman on Tuesday, whose ruler, Sultan Qaboos, died on Friday.
Japan’s Cabinet last month approved the deployment of a warship and patrol planes to the region and on Friday ordered them to head to the Middle East to protect ships bringing goods to Japan.
In May and June 2019, several attacks took place on international merchant vessels in the Gulf, including the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous, which the United States blamed on Iran. Tehran denies the allegations.