Thank you, Madam President.

As this is the first public meeting of the month, I would like to assure you of Switzerland's full support during your presidency, and I would like to thank Japan for its excellent management during the month of March.

We would like to thank Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East Khaled Khiari for his speech detailing yesterday's events in Damascus. 

Switzerland condemns the air strike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which killed and injured several people. This strike considerably increases the risk of a major escalation in the region. The spiral of escalation must stop immediately. This includes a halt to militia attacks in the region and the implementation of Resolution 2728 demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Switzerland also recalls that Resolution 2254 calls for a national ceasefire in Syria.

We call on all parties and those with influence over them to exercise the utmost restraint. All channels of communication must be used to avoid any misunderstandings. A single miscalculation can have disastrous consequences. A further deterioration in the situation must be avoided, and we collectively have the means to prevent it.

Any use of force must strictly comply with international law and international humanitarian law must be respected by all parties. Given the current climate, the proper conduct of diplomatic activity is of the utmost importance. Diplomatic buildings must not be targeted.

In such situations, dialogue is essential, not least to find solutions. This Council and all States must play their full part in facilitating de-escalation. Switzerland is ready to make its contribution. 

Thank you.

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