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No more Middle East escalation: EU's top diplomat urges

AFP . Brussels
04 Feb 2024 12:28:25 | Update: 04 Feb 2024 12:52:25
No more Middle East escalation: EU's top diplomat urges
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Fontelles addresses the press as he arrives to attend a European Council meeting at the European headquarters in Brussels, on February 1, 2024 — AFP Photo

European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on Saturday called on all parties to avoid further escalation in the Middle East after US strikes on Iran-linked groups in Syria and Iraq.

"Everybody should try to avoid that the situation becomes explosive," Borrell said at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The United States launched air strikes against Iranian forces and allied militias in Iraq and Syria on Friday, with President Joe Biden vowing more to come in retaliation for a deadly drone attack on an American base in Jordan.

Borrell said the US response was expected after Biden signalled that Washington would hit back. 

"Certainly every attack contributes to the escalation, and the ministers have expressed their serious concern for this process," he said following the meeting. 

"We can only call on everybody to understand that at any moment from this series of attacks and counter attacks, a spark can produce a greater incident."

Borrell said that in a bid to calm the spiral of violence the EU would launch a naval mission in the Red Sea this month to help protect international vessels from attacks by Yemen's Huthis.

Borrell said the mission would be "defensive" and not conduct any attacks on land against the Yemeni rebels.