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US Ambassador Woody Johnson tells LBC Iran should 'pick up phone' for US peace talks

10 January 2020, 11:26 | Updated: 10 January 2020, 13:57

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

US Ambassador Woody Johnson told LBC today that leaders in Iran must "pick up the phone" to speak to President Trump in order to achieve peace in the region.

The assassination of General Soleimani in Iraq last week led to Iran responding with a missile strike against Iraqi bases housing US troops in Iraq and an increase in tensions in the region.

International authorities also now believe that 176 people died when a Ukranian Airlines plane was shot down near Tehran by mistake by Iranian forces.

Following Iran's retaliation, both countries appear to have stepped back from the brink of war with President Trump saying the country "appears to be standing down".

"The President has made it very clear in his eight-minute statement the other day, which was very well received, that he's always been ready to talk about peace," the Ambassador told LBC.

"He's willing to have conversations with the Ayatollah and with the people in Iran that want to talk and release these sanctions.

"He wants peace. The President wants peace. He doesn't want these endless wars to go on. We've had a dispute in Iran now for 40 years and it's time to bring it to an end."

'Highly likely' Iran shot down plane, world leaders claim

The US Ambassador to the UK was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari
The US Ambassador to the UK was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari. Picture: LBC

So Nick Ferrari asked him: "Is it the action of a President who wants peace to kill the commander of the Revolutionary Forces? Is that a peace-loving action?"

But Mr Johnson insisted: "I think it is when his sworn duty is to protect Americans."

Boris Johnson confirms four Britons died in Ukrainian plane 'shot down by Iran'

The Ambassador was also asked if there was any substance to the claims the USA wanted to buy parts of the NHS as part of a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and the UK.

Mr Johnson told LBC: "No, no, and double no.

"The president said... if you gave it to him on a silver platter he wouldn't take it."

Read the full story here.

When asked his thoughts on US citizen Meghan Markle's plans to step back from being a senior Royal and spend more time in North America, the Ambassador refused to be drawn.

"I don't wanna get involved with family squabbles," he said, adding President Trump "couldn't have a higher opinion of Her Majesty."

He told LBC Mr Trump was so "impressed" with all that the Queen had "accomplished."

"She's had a lot of problems over the years, and she's come out very well."

Mr Johnson went on to say the Royal family provides a "public service," heralding the "good works" they do.

Meghan Markle flies back to Canada amid royal crisis talks

Harry and Meghan have decided to 'step back' as senior royals
Harry and Meghan have decided to 'step back' as senior royals. Picture: PA

World leaders have said it is “highly likely Iran shot down the civilian Ukrainian jetliner that crashed near Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.

American, Canadian and British officials believe the jet could have been hit by mistake as rocket and missile attacks took place in the region against US forces in Iraq.

The crash happened just hours after Iran attacked an Iraqi military base, an act of revenge aimed at US troops.

The Prime Minister said: "The loss of life on Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 is a tragedy and my thoughts are with all those who lost loved ones.

“Four British nationals were among those who were killed, and we are providing support to their families at this most terrible time.

“There is now a body of information that the flight was shot down by an Iranian Surface to Air Missile. This may well have been unintentional.

“We are working closely with Canada and our international partners and there now needs to be a full, transparent investigation.

“It is vital that there should be an immediate and respectful repatriation of those who’ve lost their lives to allow their families to grieve properly."

Watch the whole interview at the top of the page.