Ursula von der Leyen, incoming president of the European Commission, left, speaks during news conference at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.
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Political leaders are urging Iran and the United States to refrain from any steps that would further aggravate ongoing tensions in the Middle East.
Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. and coalition forces stationed at bases in Iraq on Wednesday morning. It is yet unclear if the attack has led to any causalities. The attack is the latest step in an escalating conflict between the United States and Iran, after the former killed Iran’s top military commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.
“The use of weapons must stop now to give space to dialogue. We are all called upon to do everything possible to rekindle talks. There cannot be enough of that,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters on Wednesday.
“We have established and timetested relations with many actors in the region and beyond to de-escalate the situation,” she added.
The EU’s executive arm has been a key supporter of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — a deal signed in 2015 between the U.S., Iran, the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China which aimed to prevent Tehran developing nuclear weapons.
The EU’s coordinator for the deal, Josep Borrell said Wednesday that the situation in the Middle East is “extremely worrying.”
“The current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the important work of the anti-Daesh coalition,” the EU’s foreign policy chief also said.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that the 2015 nuclear deal “remains the best way of preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran.”
“We think that after this crisis has abated, which of course we sincerely hope it will, that a way forward will remain,” Johnson also said, according to Reuters.
Earlier, the U.K.’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned Iran’s attacks on Iraqi military bases that were hosting U.K., U.S. and other coalition forces. “We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” Raab said in a statement.
He added that “a war in the Middle East would only benefit Daesh and other terrorist groups.”
Meanwhile in Paris, President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Iranian President Rouhani before the attacks took place. In a statement, Macron said he expressed his “deep concern” over recent events and called on Iran to refrain from any measures that would further aggravate the tensions.
In China, the foreign ministry has also called on the parties involved to refrain from aggressive action and warned that an escalation of tensions is in no-one’s interest, Reuters reported
Germany decided to withdraw most of its troops out of Iraq on Tuesday, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Spain has also decided to pull out some of its troops from Iraq, the Spanish government said Wednesday.