'Brink of war': World leaders push for Iran-US restraint

As the Iran-US showdown intensifies, nations around the globe are pressing Tehran and Washington to step back.

    Russia has accused the United States of deliberately stoking dangerous tensions with Iran and pushing the situation to “the brink of war”.

    In comments carried by staterun RIA Novosti news agency on Friday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov called on Washington to weigh the possible consequences of conflict with Iran, warning rising tensions were extremely dangerous.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday also urged all sides to show restraint. 

    The comments came after US media outlets reported US President Donald Trump ordered retaliatory attacks against Iranian targets after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down an unmanned US surveillance drone on Thursday.

    Trump later pulled back and called off the attacks at the last minute.

    The United Kingdom is in regular contact with the US over the situation with Iran, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday.

    “We have said continuously that we are calling for de-escalation on all sides and have long made clear our issues with Iran’s activity,” the spokeswoman said. “We don’t believe escalation would be in any party’s interest and continue to talk to the US and our partners.”

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed news reports that Trump apparently decided against immediate military attack.

    “Regarding President Trump, I can say that there are numerous statements and indications that the American president would like to avoid a military confrontation and we naturally welcome that,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Martina Fietz said.

    Merkel has called for both sides to calm tensions in the Gulf and Fietz reiterated “we welcome any steps that can contribute to de-escalation”.

    UN urges restraint

    Alessandra Vellucci, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, commenting on Friday on the escalating situation in the Gulf, said in Geneva, “I have only one strong recommendation – nerves of steel.”

    All parties must “exercise maximum restraint” and avoid any further escalation in the wake of the drone incident. “The world cannot afford a major conflict in that area,” she said.

    The simmering tensions between Washington and Tehran – unleashed by Trump’s decision in May 2018 to withdraw from a landmark nuclear deal – have ratcheted up in recent weeks amid a spate of mysterious attacks on oil-related assets and infrastructure in the region and a US deployment of military assets to the Gulf.

    The rising friction has provoked international alarm and prompted concern the bitter standoff could escalate into open conflict in the region.

    Both Washington and Tehran have also repeatedly stated they do not want war, however.

    On Friday, Iran told the US via the Swiss ambassador that Washington would be responsible for the consequences of any military action against it, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.

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