LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Getty President Jim Cuno called for the protection of cultural sites in Iran, in response to threatening tweets from President Donald Trump.

ISFAHAN, IRAN – JUNE 02: People spend an afternoon in the Unesco-listed Naqsh-eJanan Square on June 2, 2014 in Isfahan, Iran. Isfahan, with it’s immense mosques, picturesque bridges and ancient bazaar, is a virtual living museum of Iranian traditional culture. It’s also the Iran’s top tourist destination for both Iranian and domestic visitors. On June 4, Iran marks the 25th anniversary of the death of the Ayatollah Khomeini and his legacy of the Islamic Revolution. In the background of the photo is the Imam Mosque, named before the revolution as the Shah Mosque. Naqsh-eJanan Square is the second largest square on earth after Tiananmen Square in Beijing. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

“It is tragic that today there would be any contemplation or rhetorical threat of further destruction of cultural heritage, particularly when what precious little remains in the world is already suffering from wanton destruction, looting, neglect, reckless overdevelopment, and climate change,” Cuno said in a statement issued Monday. “Instead, we should be celebrating its existence, working to enhance protections and strengthen our international laws, and moving toward a more textured understanding of the world’s ancient cultures and their contributions to our shared experience.”

The J. Paul Getty Trust operates the Getty Villa and the Getty Center.

The president threatened to strike Iran’s cultural sites if the country retaliates for the United States’ assassination of its top military general, Qassem Soleimani.

But Trump Administration officials have walked back this threat. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC’s “This Week”, “We’ll be have lawfully. We’ll be have inside the system. We always have, and we always will.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper also reiterated the sentiment Monday, saying “We will follow the laws of armed conflict.”

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted in response to the president’s threats that targeting a country’s cultural sites is a war crime.

Iran, the second largest country in the Middle East, is one of the world’s oldest civilizations and is home to two dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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