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Russia to Washington: Drop Middle East troop plan and stop provoking Iran

BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 01: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery on June 1, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Putin is on a one-day state visit to Germany before heading to France. The two leaders were reportedly expected to talk about Syria. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)


FILE PHOTO: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia February 7, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia told the United States on Tuesday to drop what it called provocative plans to deploy more troops to the Middle East and to cease actions that looked like a conscious attempt to provoke war with Iran.

The comments, from Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to Russian news agencies, followed an announcement from Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan a day earlier who said Washington planned to send around 1,000 more troops to the Middle East for defensive purposes.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran would not wage war against any nation and the Kremlin called for restraint from all sides.

Ryabkov told reporters that Moscow had repeatedly warned Washington and its regional allies about what he called the “unthinking and reckless pumping up of tensions in an explosive region.”

“Now what we see are unending and sustained U.S. attempts to crank up political, psychological, economic and yes military pressure on Iran in quite a provocative way. They (these actions) cannot be assessed as anything but a conscious course to provoke war,” Ryabkov was cited as saying.

If Washington did not want war it had to show it, he said.

“If that’s really how it is then the U.S. should step back from reinforcing its military presence,” said Ryabkov.

Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Maxim Rodionov, Editing by William Maclean



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