Iran Assures Japan of Serious Follow-up to Hostage Case

A031190625.jpgIranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in a meeting with Japan’s deputy foreign minister Itsunori Onodera, underlined Tehran’s industrious efforts to release a Japanese student who was abducted in southern Iran a few weeks ago. Also during the meeting, Mottaki noted the various potentials existing for the two countries’ economic cooperation, and reiterated the need for Tehran and Tokyo to boost trade exchanges and promote economic cooperation.

He further called on Japanese companies to participate in economic projects inside Iran.

For his part, the Japanese deputy foreign minister appreciated Iran for its efforts to set the hostage free, and described the Islamic Republic as a significant country in the region.

“In Japan there is a good feeling about Iran,” he added.

The 23-year-old student, Satoshi Nakamura, had been traveling alone in southeastern Iran after teaching Japanese and English in Nepal with a volunteer group.

He was kidnapped on October 8 as he headed from his hotel for the ancient mud-built citadel of Bam, which was one of Iran’s main tourist draws until it was destroyed in a 2003 earthquake that killed 31,000 people.

Earlier reports blamed a bandit named Esmail Shahbakhsh for the kidnapping, saying that he has asked for the release of his arrested son in exchange for Nakamura.

The bandit is said to be the same man whose gang in August abducted two Belgian tourists who were later freed.

Japan has historically had cordial relations with Iran, both before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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