US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the White House would welcome the opportunity to negotiate with Tehran, adding that Washington’s decision to deploy a carrier strike group to the region is not aimed at waging war against Iran.
“We’ve done all the right things to increase our security posture to the best of our ability,” Pompeo told CNBC on Sunday, “but we also want to make sure that we had deterrent forces in place, so in the event that Iran decided to come after an American interest — whether that be in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Yemen, or any place in the Middle East — we were prepared to respond to them in an appropriate way”.
“We’re not going to miscalculate: Our aim is not war, our aim is a change in the behavior of the Iranian leadership,” he said.
“The forces that we’re putting in place, the forces that we’ve had in the region before — you know, we often have carriers in the Persian Gulf — but the president wanted to make sure that, in the event something took place, we were prepared to respond to it in an appropriate way.”
“An attack on American interests from an Iranian-led force, whether it’s an Iranian proper or it’s an entity that is controlled by the Iranians, we will hold the responsible party accountable. President Trump has been very clear about that: Our response will be appropriate.”
Trump said on Thursday that he was ready to speak with Iranian leaders and come to an understanding that would allow the country to improve its economic prospects. “What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me.”
“I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We’re not looking to hurt Iran,” Trump added.