Saudi Arabia, Iran must de-escalate situation: US

Washington, Jan 5 (IANS) The US is concerned over the need for Saudi Arabia and Iran to de-escalate the situation in the Middle East following diplomatic tensions between the two countries, the White House said.

“We are urging all sides to show restraint and to not further inflame tensions that are on quite vivid display in the region,” Xinhua cited White House spokesman Josh Earnest as saying on Monday.

Earnest said US Secretary of State John Kerry had been in touch with his Iranian counterpart. He will also talk with his Saudi counterpart soon.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi diplomat mission to protest the execution of 47 people on terrorism charges, including Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

“We have seen a lot of volatility, and instability in the Middle East has a tendency to break down along sectarian lines,” Earnest said. “It is not a coincidence.”

The spokesman called on people on all sides to try to bridge the divides “in a way that advances the interests of countries all across the region”.

On Monday, three Sunni-led countries — Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates — joined Saudi Arabia in severing or downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran, adding to the fraught atmosphere in the region.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced on Monday that his country will cut air traffic with Iran and ban citizens from travelling there.

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