(Updates with comments from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman)
BEIJING, Jan 6 (Reuters) - China criticised the United States for aggravating tension in the Middle East through its use of force in the standoff between Washington and Tehran and urged all parties to exercise restraint to ensure peace and stability.
A U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani has further escalated the conflict between the two countries already at odds over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
Tehran has publicly vowed to avenge Soleimani’s death, and U.S. President Donald Trump has in turn threatened further retaliation to any Iranian attacks against American assets or citizens.
“Power politics are neither popular nor sustainable,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing. “The U.S.’s risky military behaviour in recent days goes against the basic norms of international relations.”
“We call on the U.S. not to abuse its force, and appeal to relevant parties to exercise restraint to avoid the situation worsening,” he said, adding that China is “highly concerned” about the standoff between Iran and the United States.
China also criticised the United States for threatening sanctions against Iraq in response to the Iraqi parliament’s resolution calling for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave the country.
“China has consistently opposed the wanton use or threat of use of sanctions,” Geng told reporters. “We wish that relevant countries, particularly major countries outside the region, can do more to promote the Middle East region’s peace and security, and avoid taking actions that escalate regional tensions.”
Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Giles Elgood