Sunday, August 18, 2019 | ePaper

US does not seek war with Iran: Pompeo

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AFP, Sochi :
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday said his country is not seeking war with Iran, despite a spike in tensions that has seen the Pentagon dispatch nuclear-capable bombers to the region.
Pompeo's comments came during his first official visit to Russia, a key backer of Tehran which has blamed the current crisis on Washington's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Read more: What is the Iran atomic deal and why is it being targeted
"We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran," Pompeo said in a joint press conference following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
But he added: "We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion." "We are looking for Iran to behave like a normal country," Pompeo said, pointing in part to Tehran's backing of Houthi rebels in Yemen who are under   
attack from US ally Saudi Arabia.
Explore: Don't make others' lives harder: UK, France, Germany urge US
Houthi rebels "are launching missiles into areas where there are Russians and Americans travelling. These missiles could easily kill a Russian or an American," Pompeo said.
For his part, Lavrov said Moscow would work "to ensure this situation does not descend into a military scenario." "I hope that reason will triumph," Lavrov said, adding that he hoped reports in the US media that President Donald Trump is planning to send 120,000 troops to counter Iran turn out to be wrong.
Find out more: US pulls out from Cold War-era nuclear treaty
Trump himself rejected the New York Times report, saying it was "fake news" but did not rule out deploying "a hell of a lot more" soldiers in the future.
Pompeo was set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at his residence in Sochi later in the evening, for the countries' highest-level bilateral talks in nearly a year.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on Tuesday slammed what he called Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran, saying it would only drive Tehran into a corner.

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