BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told Tehran on Monday to avoid “further violence and provocations” as tensions surge in the Middle East after US forces assassinated a top Iranian general.
At an emergency session of NATO’s ruling council, US officials briefed allies on the operation that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Middle East operations of the Revolutionary Guards’ Qud Force, at Baghdad airport on Friday.
Stoltenberg highlighted that the drone-strike, which killed at least 10 people, was the decision of the United States, however, he also said that the other 28 NATO members had reiterated their long-term concerns about the destabilizing actions of Iran in the Middle East.
Upon asking twice whether any member states condemned the US strike, Stoltenberg emphasized on their unity unity and concern about the behavior of Iran.
“We have recently seen an escalation by Iran, including the strike on a Saudi energy facility, and the shoot-down of an American drone,” Stoltenberg said.
“At our meeting today, Allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no-one’s interest, so Iran must refrain from further violence and provocations.”
EU foreign ministers will have their own crisis talks regarding the situation on Friday, according to diplomats, Europe is trying to defuse tension and save the Iran nuclear deal.
Tehran vowed to avenge Soleimani, one of Iran’s most prominent public figures and a key player in its alliance and proxy network around the Middle East, while U.S. President Donald Trump threatened severe retaliation if any U.S targets were affected.