European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday that Iran should exercise restraint after Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US strike in the Iraqi capital a day earlier.
Borrell said he had spoken over the phone with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to tell him that there was a need for de-escalation of the situation.
Spoke w Iranian FM @JZarif about recent developments. Underlined need for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint & avoid further escalation. Also discussed importance of preserving #JCPOA, which remains crucial for global security. I am committed to role as coordinator.
Iran has vowed that it will take a harsh revenge from the US over the attack that killed Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), the force that has been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in Iraq over the past years.
Iraq’s PMU leaders have also said that they would not let the blood of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other members of the group killed in US strike, go in vain.
However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Saturday that he would seek direct talks with the Iranians over the issue.
“In the coming days, we will do all we can to counteract a further escalation of the situation – in the United Nations, the EU and in dialogue with our partners in the region, including in talks with Iran,” Maas said in an interview with German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The top German diplomat said that he would do his best to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the US, adding he was maintaining close contact with EU’s Borrell as well as with foreign counterparts like US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the issue.
That came as Iran’s Zarif posted a tweet to remind Pompeo, whom he called an “arrogant clown”, that people of Iraq were deeply sad about the death of Soleimani.
24 hrs ago, an arrogant clown— masquerading as a diplomat— claimed people were dancing in the cities of Iraq.
Today, hundreds of thousands of our proud Iraqi brothers and sisters offered him their response across their soil.
End of US malign presence in West Asia has begun.
He said Iraqis taking to the streets in their tens of thousands for mourning the death of the Iranian general and the Iraqi PMU fighters just proved wrong the US diplomat.
“24 hrs ago, an arrogant clown— masquerading as a diplomat— claimed people were dancing in the cities of Iraq,” said Zarif, adding, “Today, hundreds of thousands of our proud Iraqi brothers and sisters offered him their response across their soil.”
Zarif said that by assassinating Soleimani, the Americans had helped start the gradual expulsion of their forces from Iraq.
“End of US malign presence in West Asia has begun,” said the Iranian foreign minister on Twitter.