Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to visit the Middle East notwithstanding the crisis in the region following the death of Iran’s top military commander. Abe will be on a five-day visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman, starting January 11.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the leaders will exchange their views to help avoid further escalation in the region. The island country is also expected to deploy warship and reconnaissance aircraft to protect its maritime interest in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Abe’s scheduled visit was doubtful after Iran attacked two military bases of Iraq that housed US troops.
“In this visit, as the situation in the Middle East increases in tension, we will exchange views with the three countries that will play an important role in mitigating regional tensions and stabilizing the situation as part of diplomatic efforts to avoid further escalation of the situation,” said Suga.
Iran has been giving mixed signals after US President Donald Trump called for peace in the region claiming no American lives were lost in the attack. Iran envoy to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi, had said that Trump administration is reluctant to hold dialogue. Ravanchi claimed that though the US President has offered cooperation, the administration is going to intensify the sanctions on Iran.
Meanwhile, Iran’s military commander announced that the missile strikes on US bases were the start of a major operation that will continue throughout the region. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, aerospace commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said that Iran sought to hit the enemy’s military equipment and not kill anyone.
In a televised press briefing, Hajizadeh said that they are expecting a response from the United States following the missile strikes. The aerospace commander added that Iran’s response would be heavier with increased scop if the US chooses to retaliate. He claimed that Iran was ready to fire around a hundred missiles but chose to fire only thirteen.