The US President Donald Trump has suggested that he is willing to talk to Iranian leadership despite tensions between Washington and Tehran. But US officials have warned of “a swift and decisive US response” if Iran strikes first.
Trump told reporters at White House on Thursday that he was willing to hold talks with the Iranian leaders, should they reach out to him.
“What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” Trump said.
He claimed that John Kerry, former secretary of state, had told Iran “not to call”.
“But they should call … If they do, we are open to talk to them,” he said.
Trump also said that he ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf because the Iranians “were threatening.”
“We have information that you don’t want to know about,” he said. “We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask.”
Shortly after Trump spoke, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a written statement that reinforced Trump’s friendly tone.
After repeating the administration’s complaints about Iranian misbehavior, including what he called “40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities and taking American hostages,” Pompeo appealed to “those in Tehran who see a path to a prosperous future” through modifying the regime’s behavior.
Pompeo quoted Trump, the self-styled dealmaker, as saying he “looks forward to someday meeting with leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves.”
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been escalating in recent days. The Trump administration moved a bomber squadron and sped up the deployment of a US aircraft carrier to the region in response to unspecified threats by Iran against American interests. And on Wednesday, Iran threatened to renew some nuclear enrichment that had been halted under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Trump withdrew from the deal last year, citing Iran’s other malign activities in the region.