Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said the US will maintain its pressure on Iran – but that President Trump does not want war.
“We have been engaged in many messages, even this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression,” Pompeo told reporters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
“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,” the top US diplomat added.
Pompeo spoke with reporters in Tampa after a closed meeting with Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command, and Lt. General Richard Clarke, commander of Special Forces, at CENTCOM headquarters.
The Central Command oversees military operations in the Middle East.
Pompeo’s brief comments come after Team Trump announced it was deploying an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East amid increased aggression from Iran.
Fears of a confrontation between the US and Iran have increased since the attacks on two oil tankers at the entrance to the Gulf on Thursday, which Washington has blamed on Tehran. Iran has denied being involved.
Pompeo said that he and the two generals had discussed military tactics, and the decision to send additional troops, according to CBS News.
“This isn’t just two and a half years or five years. This is 40 years of Iranian activity that has led to this point,” Pompeo said about the US pressure campaign on Iran.
Pompeo added that one of the reasons for his meeting in Tampa was to ensure that the State Department and CENTCOM were coordinated.
Earlier Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic is not seeking to wage war against any nation.
“Iran will not wage war against any nation,” Rouhani said in a speech. “Those facing us are a group of politicians with little experience. Despite all of the Americans’ efforts in the region and their desire to cut off our ties with all of the world and their desire to keep Iran secluded, they have been unsuccessful.”
He added: “The entire Iranian nation is unanimous in confronting” pressures from the US. “The end of this battle will see victory of the Iranian nation.”