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U.S. fanning flames of world tensions, says Russian foreign minister

By Don Jacobson
U.S. fanning flames of world tensions, says Russian foreign minister
Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip burn U.S. and Israeli flags during a January 8 protest opposing the U.S.-ordered death of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday the United States is responsible for inflaming tensions around the world with "aggressive" foreign policies.

In his annual news conference outlining Russian foreign policy, Lavrov cited Washington's decision to kill a top Iranian military commander in a drone strike last week -- which drew missile strikes from Tehran against two U.S. bases in Iraq -- as an example.

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"An increase in tensions between Iran and the United States will not help settle any single crisis in the region, if only because the tensions will be increasing," he said.

"Constant" U.S. threats have contributed to a climate of fear that resulted in last week's downing of an Ukrainian passenger jet after it left the airport in Tehran, he said. All 176 people were killed aboard the plane, which was accidentally shot down by an Iranian missile.

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"There is information ... the Iranians were expecting another U.S. strike, and they did not know in what form," Lavrov said. "But there were at least six F-35s in the air right on the border of Iran. This information is yet to be verified. But I just want to emphasize the nervousness that is common in such situations."

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The foreign minister also said a decision this week by Britain, France and Germany to invoke a dispute mechanism of the 2015 nuclear deal continued an "alarming" trend. Iran has taken multiple steps in the past year away from restrictions of the agreement, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to abandon the accord and reimpose economic sanctions.

He also said those three nations were pressured into the move by the United States, under threat of tariffs on auto exports.

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"The world has to bend to the U.S. will and not trade with Iran," Lavrov said. "This is a very alarming situation, which has now taken a dangerous turn."

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