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War With Iran? 'I Hope Not,' Says Trump

Diplomats move to de-escalate situation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2019 8:28 AM CDT
President Trump waves after a speech about modernizing the immigration system in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 16, 2019.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – Going to war with Iran is not on the to-do list of President Trump, officials say. Sources tell the New York Times that the president—who strongly criticized America's Middle East entanglements during his 2016 campaign—told Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan during a Wednesday morning briefing that he didn't want to go to war with the country. The BBC reports that when asked Thursday if the US and Iran would be going to war, Trump said: "I hope not." American diplomats have also been acting to defuse tensions, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking European officials to help persuade Iran to "de-escalate" the situation, the Times reports.

There are tensions not just between Washington and Tehran, but between hawkish advisers—national security adviser John Bolton in particular—and other members of the administration, the AP reports. The Times' sources say Bolton has expressed frustration with Trump's failure to take military action against Iran and other countries, while Trump has poked fun at his adviser's hardline stance, quipping during one meeting: "If it was up to John, we'd be in four wars now." The Pentagon says recent military deployments may have actually helped ease tensions. The deterrence part of this is going pretty well from our perspective," a defense official tells the Wall Street Journal. (Earlier this week, the State Department told nonessential staff to leave Iraq.)

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