US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reiterated that President Donald Trump does not seek war with Iran but Washington will continue to maintain its pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
Pompeo told reporters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida on Tuesday that the American head of state did not want the conflict with Tehran to escalate, however, accused Iran of “aggression” and said the US military presence in the Middle East region was for protecting US interests.
“We have been engaged in many messages, even this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression,” Pompeo said.
“President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region. That’s why we put in place the pressure campaign that’s now been ongoing for a year and a couple of months,” he added.
Pompeo was echoing previous remarks by Trump, who said earlier in May that he was not seeking a military confrontation with Iran and was instead aiming for direct talks with Tehran over his plan to negotiate and broaden the country’s nuclear deal.
Pompeo’s remarks at the Florida headquarters of US Central Command, which oversees US forces in the Middle East, came a day after the Pentagon announced the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the region under the pretext of protecting US interests.
Russia and China have criticized the Washington’s decision as “provocative” and called on the United States to cancel the deployment
That deployment should “convince the Islamic government of Iran that we are serious and to deter them from further aggression in the region,” Pompeo said on Tuesday.
The top US diplomat added that Washington must make sure to “have the capability to respond” to any possible Iranian attack on American interests.
Tehran has time and against said that it does not seek military confrontations with the United States, yet stands ready to defend its interests in the region.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated again after the US accused Iran of being responsible for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman on Thursday.
The attacks on the Marshal Islands-flagged Front Altair and the Panama-flagged Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous sent shock waves through the world.
In an interview on Fox News on Friday, Trump blamed Iran for the attack without providing any solid evidence, as did Pompeo, a day before.
Russia and China, however, warned against reaching hasty conclusions, arguing that a thorough investigation should be carried out into the incident.
Iran has strongly rejected the US allegation, calling the incident “suspicious.”