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Iran’s president Raisi tells Putin NATO expansion a ‘serious threat’

Iran's Raisi says US presence 'disrupts' Middle East security
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Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Thursday told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that NATO expansion is a “serious threat”, hours after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine.

“NATO expansion is a serious threat to the stability and security of independent countries in different regions,” Raisi said in a telephone call with Putin, according to the Iranian presidency.

Raisi expressed hope that “what was happening” would benefit “the nations and the region”, a statement added. It did not elaborate.

Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called for peaceful solutions to the crisis.

“We don’t believe that resorting to war is a solution,” he tweeted.

It was “imperative to establish (a) ceasefire” and “find a political and democratic resolution, Amir-Abdollahian added.

His post came after Russia hit military facilities across Ukraine with air strikes before sending in ground forces.

Amir-Abdollahian reiterated an assertion by Iran that NATO and the United States were to blame for the escalation.

“The Ukraine crisis is rooted in NATO’s provocations,” he added.

The foreign ministry said Iran was working to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine, which closed its airspace early on Thursday.

“We are in contact with both sides and we emphasised that the security of our compatriots is a priority for us,” its spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told state TV.

About 4,000 Iranians live in Ukraine, according to the latest foreign ministry figures.

The Iranian embassy in Kyiv has asked all Iranians in the country to leave in “any way possible”.

“If the conditions for leaving Ukraine are not met, we urge people to settle in safe havens and shelters provided by city and provincial authorities,” it said in a statement.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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