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Hook: Iran Must Deescalate Situation in Middle East

This comes after the US sent 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East earlier this month, following an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the US, UK, and Germany believe Iran is responsible for.

The US had earlier sent an aircraft carrier and additional troops into the region in May following evidence about a threat from Iran on US interests in the Middle East.

Iran recently threatened to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium – a component of nuclear bombs – to levels above those agreed under the 2015 nuclear deal unless Europe helped Iran evade US sanctions. Europe responded by telling Iran not to violate the deal.

Hook explained that his talks in Kuwait focused on “how to de-escalate tensions that in the region have been driven by Iran” and they discussed how the US and its allies can deepen their cooperation especially around the area of maritime security.

Hook said: “The Iranian regime is a threat to freedom of navigation and all nations of the world share an interest in the free flow of commerce and there is much work to be done together. We need Iran to behave more like a normal nation and less like a revolutionary cause. And if we can imagine a peaceful Iran, then we can imagine a peaceful Middle East.”

On Friday, one day after Iran shot down a US reconnaissance drone in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, Hook, speaking in Saudi Arabia, said that Iran had no right to respond to diplomacy “with military force”.

The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic waterway for the world’s oil transits, which Iran threatened to close after being hit with more US oil sanctions.

On Saturday, Donald Trump promised that the US would impose “major” sanctions on Iran in response to the downing of the US drone. He made these comments one day after calling off retaliatory strikes that would have killed 150 people but said military action is still an option.

Trump said: “If the leadership of Iran behaves badly, then it’s going to be a very, very bad day for them. But hopefully they’re smart and hopefully they really care for their people and not themselves, and hopefully, we can get Iran back on to an economic track that’s fantastic, where they’re a really wealthy nation, which would be a wonderful thing.”

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