Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday said dialogue with the world remained “possible” despite rising tensions with the United States, AFP reported. He also added that Tehran was working daily “to prevent military confrontation or war”.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since top military general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a drone strike by the US in Baghdad on January 3. Iran attacked US military targets in Iraq on January 8 in retaliation. Hours later, Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner in what its authorities have acknowledged as a tragic mistake, prompting anti-government protests and criticism from across the country. Washington has also slapped new sanctions to throttle Iran’s oil exports as part of a “maximum pressure” policy.
“The government is working daily to prevent military confrontation or war,” Rouhani said in a televised speech, adding that dialogue with the international community was difficult but remained “possible”.
Rouhani also called for “national unity”, better governance and more pluralism.
Eleven US soldiers wounded in
Meanwhile, the United States Central Command said on Thursday that at least 11 American soldiers were injured in the attack by Iran on an Iraqi airbase on January 8. The country’s military had earlier claimed there were no casualties.
“While no US service members were killed in the January 8 Iranian attack on al-Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” US Central Command spokesperson Captain Bill Urban said in a statement.
Urban said that after the attack some soldiers were transported from the al-Asad airbase “out of an abundance of caution”. “At this time, eight individuals have been transported to Landstuhl, and three have been transported to Camp Arifjan,” he said in reference to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. He added that the soldiers will return to Iraq when they are cleared for duty.
Countries demand compensation for plane-crash victims
Meanwhile, the five countries whose citizens died when Iran shot down an airliner last week on Thursday demanded that Tehran should pay compensation to families of the victims, and warned that the world is watching for its response.
Iran should hold a “thorough, independent and transparent international investigation open to grieving nations,” Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain said in a statement after a meeting of officials in London.
“The eyes of the international community are on Iran today,” Canadian foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said at a press conference. “I think that Iran has a choice, and the world is watching. Families want answers, the international community wants answers, the world is waiting for answers and we will not rest until we get them.”