Abe holds talks with Iranian president

In Tehran, Japan's prime minister is on a mission to help mediate and deescalate regional tensions caused by the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Shinzo Abe is the first Japanese prime minister in more than 40 years to visit Iran. Shortly after arriving he sat down with President Hassan Rouhani.

At the beginning of the talks, Abe said, "President Rouhani has kindly invited me to Iran several times. I'm extremely delighted to be here in Tehran today and to meet with the President."

Rouhani said, "I'm also delighted to meet you in Tehran at this important and sensitive point in time."

Abe's expected to stress the need for peace and stability in the region.

Observers say Abe could play a pivotal role in the US-Iran stand-off, given Japan's close relationship with the two countries.

Last year, Washington pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and tightened sanctions against the country.

Tehran countered by announcing it was scaling back compliance with the deal.

US President Donald Trump backed Abe's plan to visit Iran during a visit to Tokyo last month. Trump says he thinks Iran wants to talk, and that he's open to the idea.