Following heightened tension in the Middle East over the killing of Iranian top military leader, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by the US government on Friday, world leaders including Secretary General of the United Nations, German Chancellor and President of France have called for restraints and de-escalation of the crisis.

Soleimani was killed by an air strike at Baghdad airport early on Friday ordered by US President Donald Trump.

The 62-year-old spearheaded Iran Middle East operations as head of the elite Quds Force. Mr. Trump said he killed or wounded thousands of Americans.

The killing marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Already, Iran’s supreme leader has vowed “severe revenge” on the United States and others responsible for the death of one of its top military commander Qasem Soleimani.

And the US officials have said 3,000 additional troops will be sent to the Middle East as a precaution.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US wanted to de-escalate the situation, but that the strike was “lawful” and “saved lives”. “We do not seek war with Iran but we will not stand by and see American lives put at risk,” he was quoted to have said.

Reacting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged “maximum restraint” noting that this is a moment in which leaders must exercise maximum restraint.

“The world cannot afford another war in the Gulf,’’ Deputy Spokesman for the UN Chief, Mr Farhan Haq, said in a statement on Friday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, through her Spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer urged restraint and de-escalation.

“We are at a dangerous point of escalation. It is now important through prudence and restraint to contribute to de-escalation,” Demmer said, as quoted by Al Jazeera

Also speaking Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the aim now was to prevent further escalation across the Middle East. We are making use of our diplomatic channels to Iran and to other states in the region,” he said.

“Since this morning we have been in close contact with our British and French partners and with other European countries on how we can best work to calm the situation.”

Also reacting, France said its priority is to stabilise the Middle East.

French Secretary of State for European Affairs Amelie de Montchalin spoke to RTL radio.

“What is happening is what we feared: Tensions between the United States and Iran are increasing,” Montchalin said. “The priority is to stabilise the region.”

“We have woken up to a more dangerous world,” Montchalin added, saying French President Emmanuel Macron would consult soon with “players in the region.”

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