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Mike Pompeo says US mission is to avoid war, Iran says West raising Gulf 'insecurity' Featured

Post by  GNN International Desk 23 Sep 2019 BE_THE_FIRST_TO_COMMENT 20
Mike Pompeo

The US aims to avoid war with Iran and the additional troops ordered to be deployed in the Gulf region are for "deterrence and defence", US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Pompeo added that he was confident US President Donald Trump would take action if such deterrence measures fail and that this was well understood by the Iranian leadership.

"Our mission set is to avoid war," Pompeo said. "You saw what secretary Mark Esper (US secretary of defence) announced on Friday, we are putting additional forces in the region for the purpose of deterrence and defence," he said.

Pompeo said Washington was taking measures to deter Tehran, but he added that Trump would take necessary action if Tehran failed to change its behaviour. "If that deterrence should continue to fail, I am also confident that President Trump would continue to take the actions that are necessary," he said.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday denounced the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf and said Iran will proffer a peace plan, after arch-foe the US ordered reinforcements to the tinderbox region.

"Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," Rouhani said in a televised speech at an annual military parade. Rouhani also said Iran would present a peace plan to the United Nations in the coming days.

"In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbours that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," he said.

Tensions between Iran and the US and its allies have threatened to boil over since May last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and later began reimposing sanctions in a campaign of "maximum pressure". The tensions escalated in the wake of devastating September 14 attacks on Saudi oil installations that Washington and Riyadh have, to varying degrees, blamed on Tehran.

Following the attacks, which caused global oil prices to spike, Trump initially raised the possibility of military retaliation, tweeting that the US was "locked and loaded". The US later expanded its long list of sanctions against Iran by further targeting its central bank, as Trump indicated he did not plan a military response.

In his speech delivered before a massive military parade on Sunday, Rouhani called on the foreign powers in the Gulf region to "stay away". "If they're sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race," he said. "Your presence has always brought pain and misery for the region.

The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be for our region...," said the Iranian president. Rouhani is expected to travel to New York on Monday.

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