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‘UK Would Not Back US Bombing Of Iran Cultural Sites’

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Boris Johnson

Downing Street has said targeting cultural sites in Iran would breach international warfare conventions in an implicit rebuke to Donald Trump for threatening to bomb protected heritage sites.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman refused to criticise Trump directly but made clear the UK government would not support such a course of action, after the US president said he could target 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliated over the assassination of Qassem Suleimani – “some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture”.

Trump’s comments amount to threatening a war crime because such action would violate international treaties, but he repeated the threat on Sunday, saying: “They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.”

Responding to Trump’s latest comments, Johnson’s spokesman said there were “international conventions in place that prevent the destruction of cultural heritage”, implying the UK does not believe such threats would be carried out.

“You can read the international conventions for yourself. It is the 1954 Hague convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict,” he added.

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However, Downing Street was careful not to criticise Trump directly, insisting that Britain’s security partnership with the US remained “very close” despite Johnson not having been informed of Washington’s plan to assassinate Suleimani in advance.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We have a very close security partnership with the United States, we are in regular dialogue at every level.”

Asked if Johnson was convinced the US drone strike was legal, the spokesman said: “States have a right to take action such as this in self-defence and the US have been clear that Suleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”

The spokesman also defended Johnson’s failure to make any sort of statement on the assassination for 68 hours while he was holidaying with his partner on the Caribbean island of Mustique.

“The PM was in contact with senior officials and senior ministers throughout the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The government’s position was set out by the foreign secretary,” he said.

The prime minister spoke to Trump, as well as Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Emmanuel Macron, the French president, on Sunday. The UK, Germany and France issued a joint statement urging de-escalation and restraint by all parties late on Sunday night.

Johnson also spoke to the Iraqi prime minister on Monday morning, and urged him to allow foreign troops to remain in the country to fight against the threat posed by Islamic State.

“The coalition is in Iraq to protect Iraqis and others from the threat from Daesh [Isis] at the request of the Iraqi government,” the spokesman said. “We urge the Iraqi government to ensure the coalition is able to continue our vital work countering this shared threat.

“The foreign secretary spoke to the Iraqi president and prime minister this weekend. The prime minister is speaking with his Iraqi counterpart today and our ambassador in Baghdad is in touch with political leaders in Iraq to emphasise these points and urge them to ensure we can keep fighting this threat together.”

Johnson will meet senior ministers to discuss the Iran situation later on Monday and hold a meeting of the national security council on Tuesday.

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World

JUST IN: Israel Confirms Its First Case Of Coronavirus

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Israel

The virus was confirmed in a citizen who flew home from Japan earlier this week after being quarantined on the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.

“One of the passengers who returned home from the cruise ship in Japan tested positive in a checkup by the health ministry’s central laboratory,” a ministry statement said.

The statement added that the other dozen Israeli passengers who had flown home had all tested negative.

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BREAKING: Two Test Positive For Coronavirus In Iran

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Two people in Iran tested positive Wednesday for the deadly new coronavirus, the health ministry said in the Islamic republic’s first cases of the disease.

Kianoush Jahanpour, a ministry spokesman, said the cases were detected in the holy city of Qom, south of the Iranian capital.

“In the past two days, some suspect cases of the new coronavirus were observed in Qom city,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

“Teams were dispatched after receiving the reports, and based on the existing protocols the suspect cases were isolated and tested,” said Jahanpour.

“Out of the samples sent, a laboratory tested two of them as positive for coronavirus just minutes ago and some of the other samples were type B influenza.”

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The health ministry spokesman said additional tests were being done on the two cases and final results would be announced “as soon as possible”.

The new coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people in China and infected more than 74,000. It has spread to at least two dozen countries.

The United Arab Emirates was the first country in the Middle East to report cases of coronavirus last month.

AFP

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Why Trump Doesn’t Want War With Us — Iran’s President Rouhani

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Trump

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has stated that he doesn’t believe Trump wants a war with his country as it will ”affect his re-election prospects.”

According to Rouhani, the US’ maximum pressure sanctions against Iran has failed, and the Iranian regime will only renegotiate with the US if crippling sanctions against Iran are removed and the US rejoins the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal negotiated by Obama but exited by Trump in 2018.

The Iranian leader added that war would be harmful to U.S. interests and those of its regional allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Iran.

“I think the Americans aren’t after war since they know what harm it could do them,” said Rouhani in a news conference.

Rouhani said that Persian Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar stood a lot to lose if conflict between Iran and the U.S. turns to war.

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‘Talks could take place if the U.S. were to scrap damaging economic sanctions and reinstate commitments made in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by the Obama administration between Iran and global powers’, Rouhani said.

Rouhani also said he didn’t care who won the next US elections.

“We will never sit at the negotiating table with a weak position,” Rouhani said.

U.S.-Iranian relations have been strained for a while resulting in the early-January U.S. drone strike ordered by Trump that killed Iran’s general, Qassem Soleimani to which Iran responded with airstrikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops which left scores of soldiers with brain injuries.

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