Head of Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has urged the United States of America and Iran to avoid escalation and pursue “dialogue and self-restraint.”
The pontiff pleaded with both countries to avert a wider conflict in the Middle East.
The pope made his appeal on the current crisis in a yearly speech that has come to be known as his “State of the World” address to ambassadors accredited to the Vatican.
“Particularly troubling are the signals coming from the entire region following the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States,” Francis told diplomats from more than 180 states.
He said the tensions risked “compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq, as well as setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert”
Iran had on Wednesday launched over 15 missiles on US targets in Iraq in retaliation to the death of Qassem Soleimani, who was buried on Tuesday.
It further issued another warning that any US retaliation to the missile attacks in Baghdad would lead to an all-out war in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Thursday denounced “Iranian violations of Iraqi sovereignty” after Iran fired missiles at Iraq bases there where US troops are deployed in retaliation for the killing of a top commander.
“The kingdom denounces and condemns the Iranian violations of Iraqi sovereignty,” said a statement carried by the official SPA news agency following Wednesday’s retaliatory strikes by Riyadh’s arch-foe Iran.