Biden says Iran-Pakistan clash shows Iran is not well-liked in region

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the clashes between Iran and Pakistan this week show that Iran is not well-liked in the region as the White House said it does not want to see an escalation.

Pakistan launched strikes on separatist militants inside Iran on Thursday, in a retaliatory attack two days after Tehran said it struck the bases of another group within Pakistani territory.

“As you can see Iran is not particularly well liked in the region and where that goes, we’re working on now. I don’t know where that goes,” Biden said.

The United States has been locked in a test of wills with Iran over its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been launching attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Air Force One as Biden flew to North Carolina that Washington is monitoring the Iran-Pakistan clashes closely.

“We don’t want to see an escalation clearly in South and Central Asia. And we’re in touch with our Pakistani counterparts,” Kirby said.

Kirby said the attack on Pakistan was another example of Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Trevor Hunnicutt; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Franklin Paul and Alistair Bell)