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Trump Backs Japan Efforts To Broker Talks With Iran, Says Not After Regime Change

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on May 27 (photo by AFP)

President Donald Trump sounded as dovish as possible on Iran Monday saying during his visit to Japan, "We're not looking for regime change, I just want to make that clear, we're looking for no nuclear weapons."

Trump added that he was "not looking to hurt" Tehran and believes the two sides could come to a deal.

He had earlier opened the door to negotiations with the regime in Tehran, saying: "if they'd like to talk, we'd like to talk also."

The U.S. president voiced support for the Japanese prime minister's interest in using his country's good relations with Iran to help broker a possible dialogue between Washington and Tehran.

Trump, who has said he's open to having a dialogue with Iran, has sought to downplay fears of military conflict, but the Iranians have said they have no interest in communicating with the White House.

Despite this public posture, Iran is in close contacts with Oman, a friendly Gulf country that helped broker the Iran nuclear talks with the U.S. in 2013. After a visit by Oman's foreign minister to Tehran last week, Iran's deputy foreign minister visited Oman on Sunday, May 26.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed concerns over North Korea during U.S. president's state visit to Tokyo.

At the start of their talks on May 27, Trump sought to reassure Abe about Japanese concerns over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Trump told Abe there is "great respect" between the United States and North Korea, and predicted "lots of good things" -- despite recent missile launches by Pyongyang.

"Lots of good things will come with North Korea," Trump said. "We've come a long way. There's a good respect built, maybe a great respect, built between certainly the United States and North Korea."

Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have been rising in recent months after a summit in Hanoi in February between the two leaders broke down without producing results on the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

As Trump was meeting with Abe on May 27, North Korea's Foreign Ministry called Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton a "war monger" and "defective human product" in response to his description of a recent North Korean short-range missile test as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Later, at a joint press conference after their meeting, Trump said he and Abe also had spoken about tensions that have risen between Tehran and Washington since Trump withdrew the United States from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

"Nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me," Trump told reporters, adding that he thinks "Iran would like to talk and if they'd like to talk, we'll talk also."

Trump also noted that Abe has a "very good relationship with Iran."

Japanese media has reported that Abe is considering a visit to Iran in June. The Kyodo News Agency, citing unidentified government sources, said on May 24 that Abe's visit would be likely in mid-June.

The visit would follow a trip in May to Tokyo by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Earlier on May 27, Trump became the first world leader to meet with the new emperor of Japan, who ascended to the throne on May 1.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako greeted the U.S. president and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on May 27.

The red-carpet welcome ceremony came at the start of Trump's four-day state visit to Japan.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and Kyodo News Agency