Qatar, Iran agree de-escalation 'only solution' to regional tensions

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - "This visit comes at a critical time in the region, and we agreed with the brothers and with His Excellency the president that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue," he told a news conference.

"Dialogue is the only solution" to resolve the crises, he said at a time of heightened US-Iranian tensions.

The timely visit came after a week of tension between the US and its arch enemy Iran after Washington ordered a drone strike which killed  the head of the Guards' foreign operations arm Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, setting off fears of a war.

Iran responded by launching missiles on an Iraqi base housing US troops, though no casualties were reported in that attack.

Hours later, a Ukrainian passenger jet departing from Tehran’s airport crashed under mysterious circumstances, killing all 176 people aboard.

After days of denying it had shot down the Boeing 737, Iran confirmed it had in fact "unintentionally" shot the plane.

The Islamic republic's armed forces said its air defences had been at a heightened state of alert at the time. The operator had mistaken the Boeing 737 for a "cruise missile" and only had ten seconds to decide whether or not to open fire, Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said in a televised address on Saturday.

Following Sunday's session, parliament speaker Ali Larijani asked the Majles' security and foreign policy commission to examine the "grave incident" and how to prevent such disasters from occurring again.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered his armed forces to address "shortcomings" so that such a disaster does not happen again.

There have been international calls for Iran to carry out a full, independent and transparent investigation into the crash.

The confession triggered protests in Iran which saw students chanting "radical" slogans against the government.

Hundreds of students had gathered early in the evening at Amir Kabir University, in downtown Tehran, to pay respects to those killed in the air disaster before the tribute later turned into an angry anti-government demonstration.

The students chanted slogans denouncing "liars" and demanded the resignation and prosecution of those responsible for downing the plane and allegedly covering up the accidental action.

Qatar, a key US ally in the region, is home to Washington's largest military base in the Middle East.

Its relationship with Shia-dominated Iran, seen as the major rival to Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia in the region, is one of the major factors underpinning a crisis between Qatar and its former allies.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all cut ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing Doha of backing extremism and fostering ties with Iran, charges that Qatar denies.

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