US not on a war path with Iran, Pompeo says

US not on a war path with Iran, Pompeo says
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has downplayed speculation that there could be military conflict between the US and Iran.
2 min read
US Secretary of State Pompeo at a press conference in Sochi, Russia (Getty)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the US does not want war with Iran but vowed to keep pressuring Tehran, as he completed talks with his Russian counterpart.

"We fundamentally do not see a war with Iran," Pompeo told a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia slammed Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. The New York Times reported that the US could send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if a direct confrontation with Iran happened.

Pompeo's visit to Russia - his first as Secretary of State - came as tensions mounted dangerously in the Gulf, with Iran and the US engaged in a war of words over Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers and an alleged attack on four ships in the UAE port of Fujairah. Iran and the US have blamed each other for the attack.

Pompeo is the highest-ranking US official to see Putin since July 2018, when Trump met him in Helsinki and stunned the US political establishment by appearing to accept the Russian leader's statement that he did not meddle in the US election, contrary to US intelligence evaluations.

On Monday, Pompeo had cancelled a stop in Moscow to instead have an unscheduled meeting in Brussels with European foreign ministers, who have been uncomfortable with US' hawkish moves towards Iran.

Washington has pulled out of a nuclear deal backed by the Europeans, Russia and China and has slapped sweeping sanctions on Iran in an all-out effort to curb Tehran's regional clout.

The US has recently ramped up the pressure by saying the deployment to the region of an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers was to counter vaguely described threats from Iran.