President Ramaphosa shows support for Iran after US killing of Qassem Soleimani

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President Cyril Ramaphosa called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday to convey his condolences on the killing of a senior military commander by the US and to express support for Iran amid escalating tension with the US.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement on Friday the president also conveyed SA’s sadness at the loss of life that resulted from the crash of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after takeoff from the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran on Wednesday.

“President Ramaphosa conveyed to President Rouhani SA’s condolences at the assassination of the Iranian military commander, Maj-Gen Qassem Soleimani, in a US military strike which targeted Gen Soleimani on Iraqi soil on Friday January 3,” Diko said.

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The official Iranian government website said Ramaphosa called the assassination of Soleimani “a cowardly act”.

“I was very shocked by the news of Lt-Gen Soleimani's martyrdom who was very popular among people. We strongly condemn this action,” they quoted Ramaphosa as saying to Rouhani.

Diko said Ramaphosa expressed SA's interest in a peaceful and just resolution of the tension between Iran and the US.

“In the context of the pursuit of global peace, President Ramaphosa expressed deep concern at the military action by the US which has led to increased tension and created conditions for retaliation,” Diko said.

She said Ramaphosa called on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and conduct themselves within the rule of international law and hoped that the international community made an effort to secure a peaceful outcome to the tension.

“President Ramaphosa said SA was deeply concerned about the escalating tension in the Middle East, which has far-reaching implications for the region as well as international peace and security,” she said.

According to the Iranian government, Rouhani said that most of the regional issues stemmed from illegal sanctions by the US.

“We hope that all friendly countries take appropriate stances towards this illegal action and make the US observe the law,” he reportedly told Ramaphosa. “We must make the Americans understand that the world will not accept their criminal actions.”

-Sowetan


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