'We're not looking for regime change in Iran' - Trump
The United States does not seek regime change in Iran, Donald Trump said in Tokyo yesterday, while defending Kim Jong-un as a "very smart man" who was focused on the economic growth of his country.
The US president's comments came after summit talks with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, appeared to be an attempt to cool two of the world's hottest flashpoints amid rising tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula.
Iran "has a chance to be a great country, with the same leadership. We're not looking for regime change, I want to make that clear. We're looking for no nuclear weapons," Mr Trump said.
"I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal. I think that's very smart of them and I think there's a possibility for that to happen also."
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have risen since Mr Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal with Iran, reinstated tough sanctions, and the US announced it would deploy an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East.
However, the president yesterday sought to downplay concerns about military conflict. He also indicated he would back Mr Abe as a mediator, following reports that the prime minister may visit Iran in June for talks with Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president.
"I know for a fact that the prime minister [Mr Abe] is very close with the leadership of Iran... nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me," Mr Trump said before the summit.
The amicable relationship between the two leaders was on show on Sunday as they took selfies on a golf course and enjoyed cheeseburgers with their wives at the start of a four-day visit.
Mr Trump was the first foreign leader to meet Emperor Naruhito since he ascended to the throne on May 1.
The Trumps presented a 1938 viola to the emperor, and a fountain pen made from red oak from a tree at Harvard University to his wife, Empress Masako, who was educated there.
Bilateral talks with Mr Abe then focused on stalled negotiations with North Korea to persuade it to renounce its nuclear weapons programme.
Mr Trump reiterated his optimism that peace could be achieved with the North Korean leader despite his recent test of two short-range missiles and a failed summit between the leaders in Hanoi in February.
Mr Trump also appeared to put down John Bolton, his national security adviser, who said on Saturday that there was "no doubt" North Korea had violated UN Security Council resolutions by firing the ballistic missiles.