Abe asks Iran to release American captives at Trump’s request

TOKYO, June 14 (NNN-KYODO) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked Iranian leaders during his Tehran visit to release American nationals detained by the country, at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump, a Japanese government source said Friday.

At least four Americans, including a Navy veteran who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, are being detained in the Middle Eastern nation.

The Japanese premier is believed to have requested the releases during his talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday, the source said. Their response remains unknown.

Abe visited Iran as the first Japanese leader to do so in 41 years in hope of serving as a mediator between Tehran and Washington, with tensions having flared in recent weeks and concern growing about possible inadvertent military clashes in the region.

But Iran said Thursday it will not negotiate with the United States, rejecting Abe’s bid to broker dialogue between the two foes amid escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The prime minister admitted the road to easing tensions in the region amid the standoff between Iran and the United States will be rough but Japan will continue to work toward achieving peace and stability.