23:57 GMT26 January 2020
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    TOKYO, January 10 (Sputnik) - There is still a threat of a confrontation between Iran and the United States but Russia hopes that there will be no further escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday.

    "I do not think that we are witnessing de-escalation", Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said upon arrival in Tokyo, where he will take part in a Russian-Japanese Strategic Dialogue.

    The diplomat also added that Moscow was ready to discuss the current crisis in relations between Iran and the United States, if Washington was interested in that. 

    "If it [the United States] shows interest in that, we are ready, of course", Ryabkov said, while also expressing hope that Tehran and Washington would refrain from new strikes. 

    "We are maintaining permanent contact with the remaining parties to the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal], contact took place, in fact, every day in the first days of the new year", the Russian diplomat added.

    The situation in the Middle East quickly escalated in the first days of 2020 after the United States killed Iran’s Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad and Iranian airstrikes on US military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination.

    The situation has slightly de-escalated since Wednesday, as US President Donald Trump announced plans to target Iran with sanctions, not military force, while Tehran vowed to refrain from further strikes if Washington does not attack the Islamic Republic.

    Tags:
    Donald Trump, Qasem Soleimani, US-Iran Relations, Sergey Ryabkov, United States, Russia, Iran
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