Boris Johnson and Iraqi PM to ‘work together’ amid Iran tension

Protesters burn a US flag as they mourn Soleimani

Monday, January 6, 2020

Boris Johnson and Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi have agreed to “work together to find a diplomatic way forward” to the Persian Gulf crisis, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister spoke with his Iraqi counterpart this morning to urge him to allow foreign troops to remain in the country to fight against the so-called Islamic State, according to Number 10.

It comes as tensions remain high in the area following the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a US air strike in Baghdad last week.

The 62-year-old, who was head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was described by Donald Trump as a “terrorist leader”.

Mr Johnson said he would not “lament” the death of the military leader but stressed that there remains an “urgent need for de-escalation”.

Iran has vowed “severe revenge” over the attack and declared that it would also abandon the 2015 nuclear deal that President Trump withdrew the US from earlier this year.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Iran’s decision was “extremely concerning”, adding “it’s in everyone’s interest that the deal remains in place.”

Meanwhile, the American president warned on Twitter that if Iran retaliates to the strike, the US will “hit them harder than they have ever been hit before”.

He wrote in the online thread: “Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets and Iran itseld, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

Number 10 has insisted Britain’s security partnership with the US remains “very close” despite Mr Trump not informing the UK of its plans to assassinate the general.

However, it warned that there are international conventions in place preventing the destruction of cultural heritage, following the president's threat.

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