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Varadkar: Irish government 'concerned for escalation of tensions in the Middle East'

Crowds, estimated to be in the millions, gathered for the funeral of Soleimani today.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he is “concerned” for the recent escalation in tensions between the US and Iran after a top general was killed in a drone strike ordered by President Trump. 

The targeted killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani has already seen his replacement vow to take revenge.

Crowds, thought to number more than a million, today gathered in the Iranian capital of Tehran where the remains of Soleimani and others were brought for a funeral ceremony. 

Speaking to reporters today, Varadkar said he hasn’t spoken to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney yet but said he was “concerned” and called for a de-escalation of tensions on all sides. 

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to the Tánaiste about that yet, but we are very much concerned as a government of any escalation of tensions in the Middle East,” he said. 

“The last thing Iran or Iraq, or any part of the Middle East needs now is another conflict. We know what the effect of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria have been, not just for those regions but also for other parts of the world.

“And it’s very much our desire that the situation should be de-escalated, and the structures of the European Union and the United Nations are there as well to help do that.”

The Tánaiste has yet to issue any comment on the matter. 

British PM Boris Johnson weighed in on the recent strike, accusing Soleimani of being “a threat to all our interests” and saying “we will not lament his death” as he called for de-escalation from all sides.

Johnson warned that all calls for reprisals “will simply lead to more violence in the region and they are in no one’s interest” in the wake of the killing in Baghdad on Friday.

Following the drone strike, Iran has walked away from all commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal, sparking outrage from countries across the world. 

The developments could bring Iran closer to building an atomic bomb, set off a proxy or military attack launched by Tehran against the US and enable the Islamic State group to stage a comeback in Iraq, making the Middle East a far more dangerous and unstable place.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, Richard Bruton said “a route of peace” was needed in the wake of the recent conflict. 

“We’ve seen many incidences and we’ve seen escalation and we’ve seen hostilities in this area for a long time and I think the Irish government have always taken an approach of engaging in megaphone diplomacy,” he said. 

“But being consistent to try to seek a route of peace through the influence that we have – I’m sure that will continue to be the approach that Ireland takes.”

Trump this afternoon tweeted that Iran will never build a nuclear weapon and has repeatedly warned it against attacking US assets, embassies or military personnel. 

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