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Trump, Pompeo: We don't want war with Iran

Trump, Pompeo: We don't want war with Iran
Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Alastair Jamieson with Associated Press
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President Donald Trump said reports the United States is preparing for war with Iran were “fake news".

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The United States is not preparing for war with Iran despite recent escalating tensions, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.

Trump dismissed as “fake news” a report that the White House is considering sending up to 120,000 US troops to the Middle East if Iran steps up work on nuclear weapons.

He told reporters he would "absolutely" be willing to send troops, but that he's not planned for that and hopefully won't have to plan for that.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave the same message as he arrived in Sochi, Russia for talks with his counterpart and Vladimir Putin.

“We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran,” he said. “Our policy has been consistent now … we’re looking for Iran to behave like a normal country. That’s our ask. Our position hasn’t changed. We’ve made clear to Iranians that if American interests are attacked we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.”

Tensions mounted last week when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave European nations and China 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country from sanctions imposed by Trump after the US withdrew.

They escalated further on Sunday after Saudi Arabia said two oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, one as it was heading to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States.

Washington has warned shipping companies that "Iran or its proxies" could be targeting maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf region and said it was deploying an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers there to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

Pompeo said US intelligence officials were "working diligently to get answers" about what happened to the tankers.

"We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side but ends with some kind of conflict," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

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