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LONDON — Japan is ready to reduce crude oil imports from Iran to help Washington put pressure on Tehran to give up its nuclear program, Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Thursday in Tokyo.
Speaking at a joint news conference after a one-hour meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Azumi said Japan will further reduce its reliance on Iran, the source of approximately 10 percent of its crude oil supply.
Iran's disputed nuclear program "is a global concern," Azumi said, adding Japan "understands the actions taken by the United States."
"We will take measures that will reduce imports (from Iran) in a planned manner," he said.
Geithner, who was in Beijing before arriving in Tokyo on Thursday, also asked China's leaders to consider cutting oil imports from Iran, which is defying the global community by enriching uranium beyond the point needed for power generation and close to that needed to make weapons. But Beijing reportedly refused to cooperate with Washington.
Japan and the U.S. "will work closely to substantially increase pressure on Iran," Geithner said at the news conference while welcoming Tokyo's support.
Japan also is drifting towards Iran, backtracking from its promise last week to back American sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to halt its unsupervised nuclear development.
The latest U.S. sanctions target Iran’s central bank and are aimed at hindering Tehran’s ability to receive payment for its oil exports.