January 8, 2020 / 8:30 AM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-China calls for restraint after Iran retaliates against U.S. forces

(Updates with background on Iran’s missile strikes in paragraph 2, comments from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in paragraph 3 and 5)

BEIJING, Jan 8 (Reuters) - China urged the United States and Iran to exercise restraint and resolve their dispute via dialogue, after Tehran launched missile strikes against U.S.-led forces in Iraq in retaliation for a U.S. drone attack that killed a senior Iranian general.

Iranian state television said Iran had fired 15 missiles at U.S. targets, a response to Friday’s killing of Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. military said at least two Iraqi facilities hosting U.S.-led coalition personnel were targeted.

“The worsening of the situation in the Middle East region is not in any side’s interests,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a daily briefing on Wednesday, reiterating a call for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

China has criticised the United States for aggravating tension in the Middle East through its use of force in the standoff between Washington and Tehran. An editorial on Tuesday in the government-run China Daily blamed the U.S. for creating a “cauldron of tensions” in the region.

Asked on Wednesday what China was doing to help resolve the conflict, Geng told reporters China is in close contact with relevant parties in the United Nations Security Council. (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; writing by Judy Hua and Se Young Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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