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January 14, 2020

Britain summons Iranian ambassador: Conflict with Iran impacts entire world, says Japan


January 14, 2020

LONDON: Britain summoned the Iranian ambassador on Monday to protest the detention of London’s envoy to Tehran at the weekend, the government said.

London wanted to convey its “strong objections” about the “unacceptable breach” of diplomatic protocol, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.

Ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested on Saturday after a demonstration that broke out at a memorial for 176 people killed when Iran’s armed forces mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian plane last week.

Iranian authorities confirmed his arrest as a foreigner at “an illegal gathering” but said he was released soon after being identified.

Macaire said he went to an event advertised as a vigil and left after five minutes when some people started shouting. He was arrested half an hour later.

“This was an unacceptable breach of the Vienna Convention and it needs to be investigated,” the Downing Street spokesman said, referring to a 1961 international treaty that sets out protections from harassment for foreign diplomats.

“We are seeking full assurances from the Iranian government that this will never happen again. “The Foreign Office has summoned the Iranian ambassador today to convey our strong objections.”

Tensions are running high in Iran and across the wider region after the US killing of a top Iranian commander and a retaliatory strike on coalition bases in neighbouring Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned that military confrontation with Iran will impact global peace and stability, as he visits the Middle East hoping to ease tensions spiked by the US killing of a top Iranian general.

His comments came at the start of a five-day Gulf tour that had been thrown into doubt after Tehran responded to the attack on Qasem Soleimani by launching a barrage of missiles at bases hosting American troops in Iraq, prompting fears of all-out war.

But as those concerns receded, the Japanese premier decided to go ahead with the visit and on Sunday discussed regional tensions during an hour-long meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in northwestern Al-Ula province, according to foreign ministry spokesman Masato Ohtaka.

“Any military confrontation in the region that includes a country like Iran will have an impact not only on peace and stability in the region but the peace and stability of the whole world,” Abe said, according to Ohtaka.

Abe called “on all relevant countries to engage in diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions”, Ohtaka added.

The spokesman said the two leaders agreed on working closely on maritime security in the region and discussed Tokyo’s decision to send a destroyer for intelligence activities along with two P-3C patrol aircraft to the Middle East.

Japan, however, will not join a US-led coalition in the region. Tokyo has walked a fine line in balancing its key alliance with Washington and its longstanding relations and interests with Tehran. Ohtaka said that Abe stressed the importance of a continuous and stable Saudi oil supply to Japan. The prime minister’s tour will also include visits to the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

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