WASHINGTON, June 18 (Reuters) – The United States will maintain its pressure campaign on Iran and continue to deter aggression in the region but does not want the conflict with Tehran to escalate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.
“We have been engaged in many messages, even this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression,” Pompeo told reporters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since Washington blamed longtime foe Iran for Thursday’s attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.
In an interview with Time magazine released Tuesday, Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would sanction the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies. He said the attacks on tankers so far had “been very minor.”
“President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region,” Pompeo said.
“Now we need to make sure that we continue to do that so that we ultimately we get the opportunity to convince Iran that it’s not in their best interest to behave in this way.”
(Reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Alexander and Bill Trott)