US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, on a visit to Moscow, Tuesday refuted any willingness to war with Iran on the part of the United States, whose military maneuvers cause fears of an escalation in the Gulf. The US President Donald Trump's administration of an aircraft carrier and bombers in the Gulf has escalated tensions, further lengthening the list of issues of contention between the United States and Russia, where the Secretary of State The State has surrendered to try to renew contact.
"Basically, we are not looking for a war with Iran," said Pompeo at a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov after more than three hours of talks in Sochi, southern Russia, before returning to Vladimir Putin for the meeting at the highest level between the two countries since the Helsinki summit in July. The already tense relations between Washington and Tehran have escalated over the past week: Iran has suspended some of its commitments under the 2015 agreement on its nuclear program, a year after the US withdrawal of the text, while the Trump administration has tightened its sanctions against the Iranian economy.
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Accusing Tehran of preparing "attacks" on US interests in the Middle East, the Pentagon dispatched an aircraft carrier, a warship, B-52 bombers and a Patriot missile battery to the area. Donald Trump, who issued a strong warning to Iran on Monday, Tuesday denied any plans to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran, an assumption the day before by the New York Times. "If we had to do it, we would send a lot more men than that," he added.
"Make sure the situation does not escalate"
On Monday night, the American daily reported that the acting US Defense Minister Patrick Shanahan had presented a plan last week, in a meeting with Donald Trump's national security advisers, that 120,000 men could be sent to the Middle East if Iran attacked US forces. The plan, which is only at a preliminary stage according to the newspaper, does not call for a ground invasion and the number mentioned is the highest of the range considered, says the New York Times.
"I hope that common sense will prevail," said Sergei Lavrov. "The region is already overvolted because of the various conflicts (…) We will help to ensure that the situation does not degenerate into a military scenario." Russia, like the Europeans, is in favor of maintaining the 2015 agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. Mike Pompeo already had on Monday in Brussels difficult talks with European officials worried about a possible conflict "by accident". The fear of an escalation in the Gulf has been fueled in recent days by mysterious "acts of sabotage" against four commercial vessels of different flags, although no link has been formally established.
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Interference and Venezuela
In addition to Iran, the issues of discord between the United States and Russia are not lacking including Venezuela and disarmament treaties, Sergey Lavrov worried about possible violation of the US nuclear arms control treaty Start expiring in 2021. But the two diplomats tried to look good, saying they were ready to resume the dialogue, while engaging in a smuggling over Russian interferences in the 2016 presidential election. "I'm here today because President Trump is determined to improve this relationship, "said Mike Pompeo. "We have differences (…) but we do not have to be opponents on all subjects".
Describing his exchange with the US Secretary of State as "frank and useful", Sergei Lavrov said he agreed with him "on the importance of re-establishing channels of communication". The White House has long been hopeful that the end of prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation, which concluded less than two months ago to Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, but not to any collusion between Trump candidate and Russia, allow to turn the page of icy relations between these two rival countries. The US president announced Monday that he plans to meet his Russian counterpart at the upcoming G20 in late June in Japan. The Kremlin had denied any agreement, but Sergei Lavrov assured that Russia would react "positively" in case of American proposal in this direction.
"I hope that after the recent publication of the Mueller report the passions will calm down and that it will be possible to move forward to establish a professional dialogue between our countries," said the Russian official, calling it "pure fiction "the accusations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia and denying any interference again. If Russia interferes in the 2020 presidential election, "it would make our relationship even worse," said MP Pompeo, asking Russia to "demonstrate that this type of activity is a thing of the past."