Iran agrees de-escalation ‘only solution’ to solve crisis with US

President Donald Trump said on January 8 that Iran appeared to be ‘standing down’ after missile strikes on US troop bases in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths. (AFP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Iran agrees de-escalation ‘only solution’ to solve crisis with US

  • Donald Trump still willing to ‘sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward’ with Iran
  • Pakistan has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh

TEHRAN: Iran has signaled it favors a de-escalation after 10 days of heightened tensions with the United States during which both sides fired missiles and Tehran accidentally shot down a passenger aircraft.
Security was stepped up in Iran’s capital Sunday after a vigil the previous night for those killed in the air disaster turned into an angry protest and police temporarily arrested the British ambassador for being there.
US President Donald Trump warned Iran against harming demonstrators and against a repeat of a deadly crackdown against rallies in November sparked by a fuel price hike.
“To the leaders of Iran — DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted Sunday in his occasional all-capitals style.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, however, said Trump was still willing to “sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward” with Iran, although Tehran has steadfastly refused to hold talks with Washington unless it lifts sanctions first.
Tehran said it favored an easing of tensions after its arch-enemy Washington on January 3 killed a revered Iranian general, Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, in a Baghdad drone strike.
In a meeting between Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and the visiting emir of Qatar, both sides agreed de-escalation is the “only solution” to the regional crisis.
Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the region but also enjoys strong ties with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field.
“We agreed ... that the only solution to these crises is de-escalation from everyone and dialogue,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said on what was believed to be his first official visit to the Islamic republic.
For his part, Rouhani said: “We’ve decided to have more consultations and cooperation for the security of the entire region.”
Iran’s president also met with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose country has offered to mediate between Tehran and US ally Riyadh.
In a briefing to parliament, Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said the missiles it fired last Wednesday on Iraqi bases hosting US troops were not aimed at killing American personnel.
The US said no American personnel were harmed in the attacks.
Across the border in Iraq, the military said rockets slammed on Sunday into Al-Balad, an Iraqi air base where US forces have been stationed, wounding two Iraqi officers and two airmen.
The base had held a small US Air Force contingent as well as American contractors, but a majority of these personnel had already been evacuated due to the tensions between the US and Iran, military sources said.


Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas

Updated 20 January 2020

Erdogan says Somalia has invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas

  • Ankara and Libya’s internationally recognized government signed a maritime delimitation agreement in 2019

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Somalia had invited Turkey to explore for oil in its seas, after Ankara and Libya’s internationally recognized government signed a maritime delimitation agreement last year, according to broadcaster NTV.

“There is an offer from Somalia. They are saying: ‘There is oil in our seas. You are carrying out these operations with Libya, but you can also do them here.’ This is very important for us,” Erdogan was cited as saying by NTV. “Therefore, there will be steps that we will take in our operations there.”