The Group of Seven foreign ministers on Friday urged "all parties to work to prevent further escalation" amid mounting fears that following Israel's reported attack on Iran, the two countries could fall into a cycle of retaliation and counterretaliation.

In a communique issued after three days of talks in Italy, the G7 ministers also said they are "ready to adopt" additional sanctions against Iran following its missile and drone attack on Israel last weekend, both "now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives."

The G7 concluded its foreign ministerial gathering on the island of Capri by releasing three communiques, hours after U.S. media reported Israel's retaliatory strikes, citing U.S. officials.

"In light of reports of strikes on April 19th, we urge all parties to work to prevent further escalation. The G7 will continue to work to this end," said a communique on the Middle East situation.

Foreign ministers from Group of Seven countries hold a meeting on the Italian island of Capri on April 19, 2024. (Photo courtesy of the Japanese Foreign Ministry)(Kyodo)

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said at a press conference after chairing the meeting, "First of all, we needed to address the Israel-Iran issue," adding that the G7 will continue to work to "achieve de-escalation throughout the Middle East."

At a separate news conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to confirm the reported Israeli attack on Iran, saying, "I'm not going to speak to that except to say that the United States has not been involved in any offensive operations."

During Thursday's session on the Middle East, the G7 ministers agreed to continue working together closely to deal with the heightened tensions. They also urged restraint from Iran and Israel, according to diplomatic sources.

Tehran has claimed that last weekend's attack on Israel was in retaliation for an Israeli strike on the Iranian embassy's consular section in Damascus on April 1, which killed seven Iranian military officers including a top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander.

Iran also reportedly seized an Israeli-linked, Portuguese-flagged cargo ship as it was sailing in international waters in the Gulf of Oman on Saturday.

The United States and Britain announced additional sanctions on Iran in the wake of its attack on Israel, targeting entities and individuals involved in the country's drone and missile industries.

Separately, European Union leaders agreed to take similar actions against Iran at their summit in Brussels on Wednesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement on Thursday, "Our allies and partners have or will issue additional sanctions and measures to restrict Iran's destabilizing military programs."

Meanwhile, Japan, which over the years has built friendly relations with Iran, has not joined in implementing punitive measures against it following the attack on Israel.

The G7's communique on the Middle East condemned "in the strongest terms Iran's direct and unprecedented attack against Israel," showing their "full solidarity and support" for Israel and its people.

The same wording was employed in the G7 leaders' statement released after their virtual summit on Sunday.

Regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, the communique demanded a "sustainable cease-fire that allows for a surge of the urgently needed humanitarian assistance to be delivered safely" throughout the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave governed by Hamas.

The G7 foreign ministers also condemned "in the strongest terms the brutal terrorist attacks" by Hamas forces against Israel on Oct. 7.

In the other two communiques, the G7 condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the expansion of military ties between Russia and North Korea, which has developed nuclear weapons and advanced missiles, amid the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

With the war now in its third year, the G7 members expressed their "resolve in particular to bolster Ukraine's air defense capabilities," while demonstrating support for Kyiv's "efforts to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting peace."

As China's military assertiveness grows, the G7 members said they are "seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas," reiterating their "strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion."

The foreign ministerial talks of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union, were held to pave the way for their summit scheduled for June 13-15 in Apulia, southern Italy.

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