Boris Johnson: Qasem Soleimani was 'threat' and 'we will not lament his death'

6 January 2020, 05:31

The PM was speaking after he returned from holiday
The PM was speaking after he returned from holiday. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson has said "we will not lament" the death of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, describing him as "a threat to all our interests".

Alongside his French and German counterparts, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the PM has called for all sides to work towards an urgent easing of tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The three leaders released a statement late on Sunday night saying while Iran must stand condemned for the negative role it has played in the region, "there is now an urgent need for de-escalation".

The Prime Minister warned that "all calls for retaliation or reprisals will simply lead to more violence in the region" - adding that the UK "is in close contact with all sides to encourage de-escalation".

"We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped," the joint statement said.

"We specifically call on Iran to refrain from further violent action or proliferation and urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal).

"We recall our attachment to the sovereignty and security of Iraq. Another crisis risks jeopardising years of efforts to stabilise Iraq.

Donald Trump ordered the targeted killing of Iran's second most powerful commander
Donald Trump ordered the targeted killing of Iran's second most powerful commander. Picture: PA

"We also reaffirm our commitment to continue the fight against Daesh (Islamic State), which remains a high priority. The preservation of the Coalition is key in this regard. We therefore urge the Iraqi authorities to continue providing the Coalition all the necessary support.

"We stand ready to continue our engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defuse tensions and restore stability to the region."

On Sunday the Iraqi Parliament voted in for a resolution to expel all foreign troops from its land.

Protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in London at the weekend
Protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in London at the weekend. Picture: PA

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: "General Qassem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilising behaviour in the region.

"Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and western personnel, we will not lament his death."

The Foreign Office has issued detailed travel advice to UK citizens across the Middle East - including Saudi Arabia and Turkey - while the Navy will accompany UK-flagged ships through the key oil route of the Strait of Hormuz.

Since the killing of General Soleimani on Friday there have been international calls for calm, but aggression between Iran and the US continue to escalate.

Washington has threatened to target 52 separate Iranian sites if there is retaliation against US nationals or American assets in the region, while Tehran has been describing President Donald Trump as a "terrorist in a suit".