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NATO to meet over Iran crisis amid 'menacing escalation'

NATO to meet over Iran crisis amid 'menacing escalation'

NATO ambassadors will meet in Brussels on Monday amid ongoing Middle East tensions, three days after the US killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.

"The North Atlantic Council will address the situation in the region," a NATO official said. "The secretary general decided to convene the meeting of NATO ambassadors following consultation with allies."

Germany, France and the UK called for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East as Iranian officials threatened US troops from the country and the Iraqi parliament voted to remove US troops from Iraq.

Read more: How the Soleimani assassination was reported in Germany

"Europe now has an important role in view of the menacing escalation of the conflict between the United States and Iran,'' German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

What is NATO likely to discuss?

"There is a lot of concern about the Iraqi parliament's decision to remove all foreign troops," said DW's Terri Schulz in Brussels. "NATO is very worried about their training mission there, which was temporarily suspending within 24 hours of the killing."

"Germany, France and other NATO countries are likely to ask for guidance from the US at the NATO meeting," she added. "European Union countries are walking a tightrope between their ally the United States and their desire to keep Iran in the nuclear deal."

Iran announced on Sunday they would no longer abide by the limits of a landmark nuclear deal that restricted their levels of uranium enrichment.

On Saturday, a NATO spokesman said the mission, which involves several hundred allied personnel, was continuing "but training activities are currently suspended."

He also confirmed that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had spoken by telephone with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper.

NATO allies 'deeply worried'

The Philippines, a major non-NATO ally, also said on Monday that they were prepared to evacuate its workers from Iran and Iraq.

"President Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be prepared to deploy military assets to repatriate overseas Filipinos in the Middle East, particularly from Iran and Iraq, at any moment's notice," said Filipino Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, a government lawmaker.

Read more: US and Iran: Decades of enmity

Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan, another close NATO ally, also said that he was "deeply worried" about the situation in Iran.

"A further escalation in this situation should be avoided and I call for diplomatic efforts by parties concerned," he said on Monday.

Abe also repeated his plans to deploy the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to ensure the safety of Japanese ships, even as tensions in the region erupted in the wake of the United States' killing.

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ed/rt (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

Updated : 2021-06-24 12:21 GMT+08:00