14:31 GMT20 January 2021
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    SOCHI (Sputnik) - Russia calls on the United States not to make hasty steps against Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday, stressing that Washington and Tehran are on the brink of war.

    "I will not give estimates of what was really happening over the recent hours in this context, but the information that we have shows absolutely clearly that the situation is extremely dangerous. I would call this balancing on the brink of war ... Most 'fires' in the Middle East were sparked by Washington's 'arsonist' policies. There still is a risk of conflict, and we call on responsible players again — if there are any responsible players left in Washington — to assess the possible consequences. We warn them against hasty steps", Ryabkov told reporters.

    The New York Times newspaper reported on Thursday, citing senior US administration officials, that US President Donald Trump had authorised strikes on a number of targets in Iran in response to the downing of a US spy drone by Tehran's forces but had subsequently called off his decision. Iranian authorities reportedly received the message via Oman, a close US ally.

    Trump previously warned Iran that it had made "a big mistake" but subsequently toned down the rhetoric admitting that the incident might probably have been unintentional.

    The already tense Iran-US relation hit a new low after a US surveillance drone was downed by the Iranian military.

    The incident comes against the backdrop of a previous controversy with reported attacks on six tankers in the Gulf of Oman over the course of the past month. The United States blamed all attacks on Iran, prior to any investigation proceeding top expand its military presence in the region. Iran rejected all the allegations.

    Tensions between the US and Iran have come to a boiling point after the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018, saying that it failed to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, and started imposing crippling energy and banking sanctions on the oil-rich Islamic Republic. Iran has opposed being coerced into a new deal and also suspended parts of its commitments under the 2015 accord.


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