The Latest: Canada asks Italy for diplomatic help in Iran

January 09, 2020 - 9:09 am

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The latest on Iran-related developments (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Italy's government says Canada, which doesn't have diplomatic representation in Iran, has asked Italian assistance "for the protection of Canadian interests and for facilitating activities of consular assistance" in the country.

The Italian foreign ministry in a statement Thursday said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio spoke by phone with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, after dozens of Canadians died in a plane crash near Tehran.

Di Maio assured the Canadians of "every assistance and support" from Italy, the statement said. Champagne in a separate statement described Italy as “Canada's protecting power in Iran."

The Italian minister also expressed his “deep condolences and the closeness of Italy to the families of the victims of the disaster.”

4:55 p.m.

The brigadier general who leads Iran's aerospace program says its forces launched 13 missiles at bases in Iraq used by U.S. troops early Wednesday “but we were ready to launch hundreds."

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh also told Iranian state television his forces simultaneously carried out a cyberattack on a U.S. military monitoring service in Iraq.

He asserted that dozens of U.S. forces were killed and wounded “but we were not after killing anyone in this operation." He said that “we were after hitting the enemy’s military machine."

The U.S., however, has said no Americans were killed in the missile strike.

2:55 p.m.

A top European Union official is urging Iran's president to avoid “irreversible acts” potentially fatal to the Iran nuclear deal that is aimed at preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons.

European Council president Charles Michel spoke with President Hassan Rouhani ahead of a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers Friday to assess the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

According to a European Council statement Thursday, Rouhani told Michel his country wants to continue a “close cooperation” with the EU.

Iran struck the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China but President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally abandon the agreement in 2018, triggering sanctions that have badly hurt Iran’s economy.

After the U.S. killed Iran's top general last week, Tehran announced it would no longer respect limits on how many centrifuges it can use to enrich uranium.

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