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Britain, Indonesia Urge Calm in Middle East

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Foreign ministers of Britain and Indonesia, in separate telephone conversations with their Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, called for efforts to prevent escalation of tensions in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric and severed ties with Iran.

The top Iranian diplomat spoke with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi, by telephone on Monday evening, and discussed the latest developments in the region.

The senior diplomats all emphasized the necessity for moves to defuse tensions in the region.

Calls for restraint in the region follow Saudi Arabia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, after the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Anger boiled up in Iran, Iraq and elsewhere in the region at the execution, which also drew widespread international condemnation.

In the early hours of Sunday, furious demonstrators in the Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad stormed Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic buildings in protest at the Al Saud’s execution of the popular cleric.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani criticized the incident and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh’s example. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Riyadh would also halt air traffic and commercial relations with Tehran.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also partially downgraded its relations with Iran.

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