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Iran FM hopes for political settlement of crisis in Ukraine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The combined photo shows Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (R) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continued for the second day, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says he hopes the crisis will be settled through political channels.

In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian said that efforts are underway for the repatriation of Iranian nationals living in Ukraine through neighboring countries.

"It is our serious priority to ensure security and health of Iranian citizens living in Ukraine and we expect that grounds will be prepared for their safe exit," he added.

The top Russian diplomat, for his part, briefed his Iranian counterpart on his country's stance on the Ukrainian crisis and slammed Western states' position in this regard.

Lavrov assured Amir-Abdollahian that Russia is serious about protecting the lives of foreign citizens in Ukraine, including Iranians.

In a televised address early on Thursday, Putin announced a “special military operation” in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Lugansk — which are ruled by self-proclaimed republics — to “defend people” there against Kiev’s forces.

In 2014, the two Ukrainian regions were turned into self-proclaimed republics by ethnic Russians, leading to a bloody conflict between the government forces and the armed separatists.

In a post on his Twitter account on Friday, the Iranian administration's spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi expressed concern over the provocative expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the East, stressing the importance of remaining committed to the international law and relying on dialogue and diplomacy as the main solution to end the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

"Security concerns about the growing and provocative expansion of NATO eastward are understandable to all independent countries that are opposed to US hegemony," Bahadori Jahromi added.

In a phone conversation with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto on Friday, the Iranian foreign minister called for the Hungarian government’s assistance in the process of returning Iranian citizens from Ukraine through Hungary’s soil.

Iran will never cross its red lines in Vienna talks

Elsewhere in the phone conversation, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran would never cross its red lines in the ongoing negotiations with the five remaining parties to the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which are underway in the Austrian capital of Vienna with the purpose of salvaging the landmark US-abandoned agreement.

For his part, Lavrov once again reiterated Russia's determination to continue cooperation with Iran in the course of the Vienna talks and said Moscow has always supported Tehran's stance.

The Vienna talks began last April between Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — on the assumption that the US, under the Joe Biden administration, is willing to repeal the so-called maximum pressure policy pursued by former president Donald Trump.

Tehran says it won’t settle for anything less than the removal of all US sanctions in a verifiable manner. It also wants guarantees that Washington would not abandon the agreement again.

Intra-Yemeni talks sole solution to Yemeni crisis

The Iranian foreign minister further denounced the "destructive" move by the UN Security Council to adopt a draft resolution against Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and the world body's "wrong" move to designate the Houthis as a terrorist group. He also urged the UNSC to stop the resolution.

Amir-Abdollahian said, "Yemen belongs to all Yemenis and intra-Yemeni talks are the solution" to the crisis in the country.

Lavrov, for his turn, explained Russia's stance on the developments in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies, backed by the United States and European powers, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah resistance movement.

The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces have gradually grown stronger, leaving Riyadh and its allies, most notably the United Arab Emirates, bogged down in the country.

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