UAE says not affected in US, Iran tensions

A protester sets fire to close streets near Tahrir Square during a demonstration to protest against the Iranian missile strike, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Tensions between Iran and the US escalated after al-Quds force commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike last week. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The United Arab Emirates is seeking to allay concerns it has been impacted or is a target in tensions between its ally the United States and its regional neighbour Iran.

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said tensions in the region “will not affect citizens, residents or visitors.” It stressed that sectors across the country are operating normally.

Also Wednesday, the financial and tourist hub of Dubai said rumours being circulated regarding security threats targeting the emirate are fake and haven't been issued from any official Iranian government source.

The UAE, which has supported maximum pressure on Iran, has called for de-escalation.

US President Donald Trump faces one of the greatest tests of his presidency now that Iran has launched ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing US troops. It was Iran's most brazen assault on America since the 1979 seizing of the US Embassy in Tehran.

Iran's missile strikes were in retaliation for last week's American drone strike that killed Iran's top general. Trump huddled with his national security advisers to weigh a response.

Top Senate Democrats are citing "deep concern" about the lack of information coming from the Trump administration about the Iran operation.

Pakistan's prime minister has stressed the need to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East.

In a Twitter post, Imran Khan added that he is sending his foreign minister to Iran, Saudi Arabia and United States to meet with counterparts. Regional tensions remain high after Iran fired missiles at two bases in Iraq used by US forces in retaliation for the US killing of its top military commander.

During a meeting on Wednesday with Oman's minister for religious affairs, the Pakistani leader reiterated that his country will not be part of any conflict in the region.

Also Wednesday, Pakistan's military said the US defense secretary has discussed the Middle East situation with Pakistan's army chief, saying Washington does not want to seek a conflict but will respond forcefully if necessary.

Iraq's presidency has condemned Iranian missile strikes on two Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, reiterating its rejection of breaches of Iraq's sovereignty.

Barham Saleh's office also said in a statement that the fate of U.S. troops in Iraq is an internal matter based on legal agreements to combat the Islamic State group.

The statement adds that Iraq "has previously declared its refusal to be a starting point for aggression against any country, and also refuses to be a source of threat to any of its neighbors."

The Iraqi prime minister has publicly said U.S. troops must leave after a drone strike killed Iran's top military commander in Baghdad, and parliament has passed a non-binding resolution pushing for withdrawal.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has condemned Iran's missile strike against US forces in Iraq, while a NATO official says there were no casualties among the military alliance's personnel in the country.

The Iraqi mission consists of several hundred staff from allied nations and non-NATO countries.

In a message to The Associated Press, the NATO official who was not authorized to speak publicly said they were "keeping the situation under close review.”

Meanwhile, in a message posted on Twitter, Stoltenberg urged Iran to refrain from further violence.

NATO last week said it had suspended a training mission for Iraqi soldiers after the US killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Stoltenberg said allies remain committed to the training mission in Iraq.