Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Tuesday that his country has a "special interest" in securing stability in the Persian Gulf.
At the outset of their talks in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Kono said, "We are worried about tensions in the Middle East, and we hope to make some diplomatic efforts to ease tensions."
In response, Zarif underscored the need to engage in bilateral and regional consultations, saying that Iran and Japan "both have a special interest in the security of the energy market as well as security and stability in the Persian Gulf."
The foreign ministers' talks came at a time when the United States seeks to garner support for a coalition to patrol ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz, amid intensifying tensions in the region.
After their meeting, Kono told reporters he and Zarif, who has been on a whirlwind tour that took him to France on Sunday and China on Monday, agreed that their counties will continue to closely communicate with each other to reduce tensions in the Middle East.
But Kono declined to elaborate further, citing their promise not to disclose the content of their discussions.
Kono, however, said he repeated Japan's position that Iran should comply with a landmark 2015 international deal that placed limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Kono said, "I called for (Iran's) immediate return to the commitment of the nuclear deal," formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, adding that the country should "refrain from taking steps that could undermine it."
Iran has said it is enriching and stockpiling uranium past the agreed levels after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the deal last year.
Zarif will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday in Yokohama, according to the premier's office.
Iran and the United States remain at loggerheads after a string of attacks on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow sea lane through which about a fifth of the world's oil passes, that Washington has blamed on Tehran.
Since July, the United States has been calling on allies to join the Maritime Security Initiative, also known as Operation Sentinel, a coalition to safeguard passage through the strait from Iranian threats.
While countries including Britain and Australia have announced their participation, Japan has remained hesitant out of concern that doing so would hurt its friendly relations with Iran.
Kono refused to comment on whether he and Zarif took up the issue of the U.S.-led coalition.
The discussions between the foreign ministers were held in Yokohama because Kono was attending a meeting there related to a three-day conference on African development, which is due to begin Wednesday.