Boris Johnson finally breaks silence and says 'we will not lament' Qasem Soleimani's death
Boris Johnson has said "we will not lament" the death of Qasem Soleimani as he finally broke his silence on the Iranian military chief's assassination by the USA.
The Prime Minister had been accused of a "deafening silence" since General Soleimani was killed by a drone strike on Baghdad airport on Friday.
The Pentagon said he had been "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region".
Mr Johnson was on holiday in Mustique when the killing took place and only arrived back in the UK on Sunday.
In a statement issued by Downing Street, the PM said he had spoken to Donald Trump, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel since his return, and planned to speak to other world leaders about the unfolding crisis in the coming days.
He added: "General Qasem Soleimani posed a threat to all our interests and was responsible for a pattern of disruptive, destabilising behaviour in the region.
"Given the leading role he has played in actions that have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians and western personnel, we will not lament his death.
"It is clear however that all calls for retaliation or reprisals will simply lead to more violence in the region and they are in no one’s interest.
"We are in close contact with all sides to encourage de-escalation. I will be speaking to other leaders and our Iraqi friends to support peace and stability."
Mr Johnson said the Government had "taken steps to increase the security of our personnel and interests in the region".
Ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the situation, while the National Security Council will be convened this week.
MPs will also be updated by ministers when Parliament returns on Tuesday.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was forced to defend the Prime Minister over his silence in the wake of General Soleimani's death.
He told Sky News: "The Prime Minister is in charge. In fact I've been in constant contact with him over the Christmas break on a whole range of foreign policy issues.
“We were in touch on Friday in relation to the situation in Iraq and the whole government is working very closely together.”