United States President Donald Trump signalled he would negotiate with Iran, if Tehran took the first step on Monday, nevertheless he pledged to respond with “great force” to any threats from Iran.
“If they call, we will certainly negotiate, but that is going to be up to them,” he told reporters. “I only want them to call if they are ready.”
He also acknowledged his country had “no indication that anything has happened or will happen.”
Trump’s latest comments come amid fears of war between Washington and Tehran and a day after Trump himself threatened “the official end of Iran,” if the fight starts.
The US has been boosting its military presence in the Middle East, citing the risk of hostile actions from Tehran. Earlier this month, the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf and started flying B-52 bombers on “deterrence missions” in the region. Last week, the US evacuated all non-emergency diplomatic staff from their Baghdad embassy and the Erbil consulate, and also put its troops in Iran and Syria on high alert.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of being involved in alleged drone attacks on their crude oil pipeline and sabotaging oil tankers in the region.
On Sunday, a rocket landed near the US embassy in Baghdad, with no reported injuries. Some have speculated that Iran-allied militias were behind the attack, but the incident is still being investigated, according to US government sources cited by Reuters.
Early on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was in favour of using diplomacy to overcome the crisis with the US, but added that conditions were not right.