Trump tells officials he does not want war with Iran


U.S. President Donald Trump told his acting defence secretary this week he did not want war with Iran, the New York Times reported on Thursday, as tensions between Tehran and Washington escalate.

Trump was "firm" in telling Patrick Shanahan and others that he wanted to avoid a military clash during a White House briefing on the situation on Wednesday, the paper wrote.

U.S. media has widely speculated over whether National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, known for their hard-line stance on Iran, are pushing the president towards open conflict.

Since the pair took office in April last year the U.S. has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, re-imposed crippling economic sanctions and designated the Revolutionary Guards Corps, an arm of the Iranian military, a terrorist group.

Earlier this month Bolton announced that the U.S. was sending a carrier strike force and a bomber task force to the Middle East to send a message to Iran and on Wednesday the State Department said it was evacuating non-emergency government staff from Iraq, citing heightened tensions in the region.

But Trump has attempted to quash reports that Bolton and Pompeo want to take the country to war, tweeting on Wednesday, "There is no infighting whatsoever. Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision ... I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon."

Asked by a reporter on Thursday during a visit by the Swiss president whether the U.S. was going to war with Iran, he replied "I hope not."    (dpa)

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