News ID: 263992
Published: 0321 GMT January 06, 2020

Leaders try to defuse tensions after US assassination of Iranian commander

Leaders try to defuse tensions after US assassination of Iranian commander
Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office

As tensions mount between Tehran and Washington over the US assassination of a top Iranian commander, officials from different countries have stepped up efforts to de-escalate the rhetoric.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will work to scale down tensions between Iran and the United States and has been in contact with both parties.

Cavusoglu said Turkey would support any steps to ease tensions in the region. “We will continue to work with other countries to solve this problem or de-escalate tensions in the coming days,” he told reporters in Ankara on Monday.

He added the US assassination of Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani posed “a serious risk to peace in the region.”

A US drone carried out an airstrike at Baghdad International Airport early on Friday, assassinating General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), as well as a number of others.

In response, Iran has pledged a “harsh revenge” against America.

Cavusoglu said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had held telephone conversations with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as well as his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani about the assassination.

According to the report, Erdogan will also hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Turkish minister noted that Erdogan will discuss the latest developments with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Turkey on Wednesday.

"Mr President and Putin will address these issues personally. We all have a common concern that Iraq should not turn into a conflict zone for other countries," he said.

Speaking in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk on Sunday, Erdogan said he believed "killing the most senior commander of a country will not remain unanswered."

He noted that he was surprised by the assassination because it occurred just hours after a phone call with US President Donald Trump during which he “especially had suggested that tensions with Iran should not be heightened.”

Also on Monday, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Iraqi counterpart Adel Abdul Mahdi discussed the latest development in the region.

They agreed on the need to de-escalate tensions in the region when they spoke by phone, according to a UK statement.

“The prime minister underlined the UK’s unwavering commitment to Iraq’s stability and sovereignty and emphasized the importance of the continued fight against the shared threat from Daesh.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also held telephone talks with Turkish national intelligence chief and senior Iranian military officials, local news agencies reported citing Russian Defense Ministry.

Shoigu and the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan, discussed possible joint actions to reduce tensions in the Middle East after the US assassinated General Soleimani, Interfax quoted Russian Defense Ministry as saying.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Monday the kingdom does not want to see further escalation of tensions in the region at a “very dangerous moment”.

“We are very keen that the situation in the region doesn’t escalate any further. It’s certainly a very dangerous moment and we have to be conscious of the risks and dangers not just to the region but to wider global security,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a news briefing in Riyadh.

“We hope that all actors take all the steps necessary to prevent any further escalation and any provocation,” he said.


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