Japan's PM Shinzo Abe discusses Iran, North Korea in call with Trump

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe said that he and the US leader talked about what Kyodo described as a "coordinated response" towards North Korea. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP, REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday (Dec 21) discussed events in Iran and North Korea with United States President Donald Trump in a lengthy phone call, the Kyodo news agency reported.

The phone conversation, which Mr Abe told reporters took place at Mr Trump's request, came on the same day that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wrapped up his two-day visit to Japan.

Mr Rouhani's trip came after deadly protests over fuel price hikes in Iran, where the economy has been hit by US sanctions over Teheran's nuclear programme.

Japan is a key US ally that also maintains close diplomatic and economic ties with Iran, and Mr Abe has tried to build bridges between the two rivals.

Mr Abe did not refer to Iran when he met reporters just before midnight on Saturday, but a Japanese government source told Kyodo that Mr Abe did talk to Mr Trump about his discussions with Mr Rouhani.

The Abe-Trump phone call lasted about 75 minutes, according to Kyodo.

Mr Abe told reporters that he and the US leader talked about what Kyodo described as a "coordinated response" towards North Korea.

The call came after North Korea said the US was trying to drag out denuclearisation talks ahead of the US presidential election next year.

Pyongyang has shown frustration at the lack of sanctions relief after three summits with Mr Trump.

Earlier this month, it promised a "Christmas gift" if the US did not come up with concessions by the end of the year after it placed a moratorium on long-range missile tests.

A White House spokesman confirmed the call, saying Mr Trump and Mr Abe spoke about developments related to North Korea, Iran, and trade.

"President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agreed to continue close communication and coordination, particularly in light of recent threatening statements issued by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," White House spokesman Judd Deere said, referring to North Korea's official name.

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