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EU Calls on Regional Powers to Act Responsibly in Iran-Saudi Arabia Situation
   2016-01-04 23:10:53    Xinhua      Web Editor: Yang Tiantian

People protest in front of Saudi Arabia's embassy during a demonstration in Tehran January 2, 2016. Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran early on Sunday morning as Shi'ite Muslim Iran reacted with fury to Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric. [Photo: Xinhua]

The European Union (EU) on Monday urged relevant parties to act responsibly in the wake of recent events between Iran and Saudi Arabia which has led to a strained diplomatic situation between the two countries.

"We expect all regional powers to act responsibly in the volatile situation," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini's spokesperson Catherine Ray told a press briefing.

Ray told reporters the EU would continue to closely follow the situation between Iran and Saudi Arabia and said contacts were ongoing at all levels with its partners.

On Sunday, Mogherini made calls to her Iranian and Saudi counterparts, urging efforts from both sides to avoid the tension escalating.

"The security and stability of the whole region, that is already facing great threats, is at stake," said Mogherini in a statement.

Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif agreed that "no effort should be spared by all parties to keep the situation under control and to avoid sectarian tensions to escalate," said the statement.

During her conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Mogherini reiterated the EU's opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and called for the avoidance of any action that could fuel violence in the region and beyond.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia cut off its diplomatic relations with Iran after angry Iranian protesters stormed its embassy in Tehran to protest at the execution of prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

On Saturday, the Saudi interior ministry announced that al-Nimr and 46 other men had been executed on terror charges. Most of the executed were Saudis who were involved in a series of attacks carried out by al-Qaida from 2003 to 2006. Al-Nimr was seen as a driving force behind anti-government protests that broke out in the country in 2011.

The executions triggered angry protests outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Saturday by Iranians who condemned the execution of al-Nimr.

Angry mobs raided and set fire to the embassy late Saturday and police tried to drive the protesters away after they broke into the embassy compound. Also on Saturday, a group of protesters set ablaze parts of the Saudi Consulate in Iran's northeastern religious city of Mashhad.

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