World leaders urge caution following US strike on Qassem Suleimani

World leaders urge caution following US strike on Qassem Suleimani
World leaders urge caution following US strike on Qassem Suleimani

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - World leaders have expressed concern after the US mounted a strike on the head of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force and Iran threatened retribution.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a flurry of phone calls with his counterparts in other nations to explain the US decision, which killed Qassem Suleimani and nine others on Friday in Baghdad.

He confirmed phone calls with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, France, the UK, Germany, China and a host of other nations.

In a series of tweets acknowledging the phone calls, Mr Pompeo repeatedly stated the US was "committed to de-escalation".

In response to what he called "accelerating regional developments", UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash called for "wisdom and balance" in the region.

In a tweet, Dr Gargash said what was needed is the adoption of "political solutions rather than escalation and confrontation in the region".

While he did not mention the killing of Suleimani directly, Dr Gargash said "the issues facing the region are complicated and have accumulated and suffer from the lack of trust between different sides".

He added that "logical actions require a calm and unemotional approach".

Dr Gargash was joined in his warning by an array of world leaders and actors.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the kingdom had followed the events in Iraq, which came "as a result of the escalation of tensions and terrorist acts" that it had warned Iran against committing.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia... calls for the importance of self-restraint to ward off all acts that may lead to aggravating the situation with unbearable consequences," the statement published by the Saudi state news agency SPA read.

The response from the wider international community was mixed. Most said Iran’s behaviour in the region had been troublesome, but said the US action had not helped to calm matters.

“The US military operation followed a series of dangerous provocations in Iran. The action did not make it any easier to reduce tensions,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday, adding he was working with France and the UK to advise on how to de-escalate the crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the escalation was “not inevitable” and stressed the international community should remain focused on the sovereignty and security of Iraq, the wider stability of the region and the fight against ISIS.

Some warned the US and Iran to look back at historical conflicts in the region to remind them what’s at stake..

In a tweet, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged "maximum restraint". "The world cannot afford another Gulf War," he said.

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif also reached out to Iranian allies, speaking with Chinese and Qatari respresentatives.

"The dangerous US military operation violates the basic norms of international relations and will aggravate regional tensions and turbulence," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a call with Mr Zarif on Saturday.

Mr Zarif later met Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani in person.

The Iranian official news agency IRNA announced that the two officials had an initial round of discussions and had entered a second session on Saturday afternoon. The Qatari official also met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

In a statement the Qatari Foreign Ministry “urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and to prevent from taking Iraq and the region into endless violence”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also spoken to the Qatari Foreign minister “and expressed appreciation for Qatar’s solidarity in the face of Iran’s malign regional influence,'' according to a State Department read out.

Updated: January 4, 2020 09:06 PM

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