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UK's Johnson urges Trump to de-escalate Iran situation

January 8, 2020 at 8:51 pm

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech during the Conservative Party annual conference in Manchester, UK on 2 October 2019 [Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency]

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump discussed Iranian missile attacks on Wednesday, even as the two leaders separately offered different approaches on how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Reuters reports.

The two allied leaders spoke in a call before Trump, in a speech, backed away from any military response toward Tehran in retaliation for the strikes on military bases in Iraq housing US troops, Johnson’s spokesman and the White House said.

The Iranian strikes came after the United States killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad last week. Trump said no US troops were killed in Tehran’s strikes.

Johnson, in the call, urged Trump to de-escalate the situation urgently to avoid further conflict, Johnson’s spokesman said.

“The two leaders discussed the current situation in the Middle East and agreed to continue close coordination in support of shared national security interests,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. He gave no other details.

READ: Iran missile strikes a ‘slap in the face’ for US, says Khamenei 

Still the leaders, whose countries are close allies, separately backed different approaches to Iran.

Johnson told the UK’s parliament earlier on Wednesday the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and six world powers, including the United States and the United Kingdom, remained the best option to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018 and adopted a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, but Johnson told UK lawmakers the agreement “remains a shell into which we can put substance again.”

In his remarks at the White House on Wednesday, Trump called the pact negotiated under his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama “very defective.”

“The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China to recognize this reality,” Trump said.

“They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal – or JCPOA – and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”