U.S. Vice President Biden talks with Japan PM about Russia, Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday about the new sanctions that Japan, the United States and the European Union have imposed on Russia over its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, the White House said. "The Vice President welcomed Japan's recently announced sanctions on Russia," the White House said in a statement. "They agreed on the importance of continued G7 coordination to press Russia to stop its destabilising actions in Ukraine." Abe is currently on a nine-day trip in Latin America and the Caribbean. In a wide-ranging telephone conversation about several pressing international issues, the White House said Biden also "expressed appreciation" for Japan's support for Iran nuclear talks and the leaders agreed to coordinate closely on the matter. Japan slashed its purchases of Iranian crude oil in response to U.S. and European sanctions that were credited with pressuring Tehran to agree to international negotiations over its nuclear programme. Biden and Abe also talked about North Korea's nuclear programme, the White House said. They agreed that the United States and Japan should continue to support Jordan and other neighbours of Iraq and Syria that have had to deal with an influx of refugees from the region's crises. Biden also welcomed Japan's recent shift to end a ban on collective self-defence that has kept its military from fighting abroad, a move that angered China as well South Korea. The leaders agreed the change would "enhance the U.S.-Japanese alliance and enable Japan to make even greater contributions to regional and global peace and security," the White House said. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Will Dunham)