Abe asks Iran for efforts to secure nuclear deal with world powers

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday to ensure the Middle Eastern country makes efforts to secure a final agreement with the United States and other world powers on Tehran's nuclear program.

"I expect Iran to make efforts to achieve an agreement," Abe told Zarif when they met at the prime minister's office in Tokyo. Zarif promised Iran will deal with the matter "sincerely."

Iran agreed in November with six powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for a partial easing of economic sanctions.

The parties began a new round of talks last month, aiming to achieve a final agreement that addresses international concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

Japan is among the countries that have imposed sanctions on Iran, resulting in a fall in bilateral trade as well as Japanese investment in the major oil producer.

At the meeting with Abe, Zarif extended Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's invitation for the prime minister to visit Iran.

Zarif met with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida later in the day and they released an updated version of a joint document.

In the latest document, Japan and Iran expressed their determination to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction in Northeast Asia. The wording was not included in the statement issued in November.

The new document also called for revitalizing bilateral trade as well as ensuring the safety of navigation in the Persian Gulf, which is vital to transporting crude oil to Japan.