US envoy calls on international community to ‘urge Iran to de-escalate’

AFP Kuwait City, Kuwait Jun 23, 2019, 09.26 PM(IST)

File photo: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen near a "3 Khordad" system which is said to had been used to shoot down a US military drone. Photograph:( Reuters )

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In mid-June, the United States said it would deploy 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, after a series of tanker attacks in the Gulf it has blamed on Iran despite Tehran's denials of involvement.

The US special envoy for Iran on Sunday urged "all nations to use their diplomatic effort to urge Iran to de-escalate and meet diplomacy with diplomacy" amid soaring tensions in the Gulf.

"We are not interested in... military conflict against Iran, we have enhanced our forces' postures in the region for purely defensive purposes," Brian Hook told journalists in Kuwait City.

In mid-June, the United States said it would deploy 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, after a series of tanker attacks in the Gulf it has blamed on Iran despite Tehran's denials of involvement.

The US moves came as Iran set a 10-day countdown for world powers to fulfil their commitments under a nuclear deal abandoned by Washington, saying it would otherwise surpass the uranium stockpile limit mandated by the accord.

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Hook said his talks in Kuwait focused "how to de-escalate tensions that in the region have been driven by Iran and we discussed how we can deepen our cooperation especially around the area of maritime security".

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"The Iranian regime is a threat to freedom of navigation and all nations of the world share an interest in the free flow of commerce and there is much work to be done together," he said.

"We need Iran to behave more like a normal nation and less like a revolutionary cause. And if we can imagine a peaceful Iran, then we can imagine the peaceful Middle East," he added.

On Friday in Saudi Arabia, the US envoy said Iran has no right to respond to diplomacy "with military force", a day after Tehran shot down a US reconnaissance drone over the Strait of Hormuz — a strategic waterway for the world's oil transits.