Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi hit each other’s elbows during a meeting in Tehran, Iran on August 22, 2021. Majid Asgaripour / WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DUBAI, Aug.22 (Reuters) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Japan to release Iranian funds frozen in the country due to US sanctions, Iranian state television reported after the president met with the Japanese minister on Sunday. of Foreign Affairs visiting.

Iran has been unable to secure tens of billions of dollars of its mostly oil and gas exports assets in foreign banks, including $ 3 billion of its funds in Japan, due to US sanctions against its sectors. banking and energy. Sanctions were reimposed in 2018 after Washington abandoned Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers.

“Improving relations with Japan is of great importance to Iran (…) Any delay in releasing Iranian assets in Japanese banks is not justified,” Raisi said during his meeting. with Toshimitsu Motegi, arrived Sunday evening in Tehran for a two day visit.

Iran and six powers have been in talks since April to restore the nuclear pact, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program to make it harder to obtain fissile material for a weapon, in exchange for sanctions relief . Tehran denies having searched for nuclear weapons.

However, Iranian and Western officials said significant gaps remain in restoring the pact. A sixth round of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington in Vienna was postponed on June 20, two days after radical cleric Raisi won the presidential election in Iran.

Iran and six powers have yet to announce when they will resume negotiations. Raisi, who presented his cabinet to parliament for a confidence vote, is expected to take a “hard line” approach to the Vienna talks, according to people familiar with the matter.

Raisi, as Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supported the nuclear talks in Vienna.

“Iran has no problem with the principle of negotiation … What is the rationale for maintaining US sanctions against Iran?” Iranian state media quoted Raisi as telling Japanese Motegi.

In 2019, Iranian Khamenei declined to respond to a message Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent to Tehran from then-US President Donald Trump, as a peacemaking visit was overshadowed by attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. One of the tankers was Japanese.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Susan Fenton

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