US not seeking war with Iran - top general
The United States is not seeking conflict with Iran, the general overseeing America's military involvement in the Middle East said on Thursday, even as some Trump administration officials have stepped up rhetoric against Tehran.
"I don't think we're seeking to go to war with Iran, and I don't think that's what we're focused on," General Joseph Votel, who headstheUSCentralCommand,toldPentagon reporters.
His comments came the day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was terminating a 1955 friendship treaty with Iran reached under its pro-Western shah.
And President Donald Trump's national security advisor John Bolton, a longtime mega-hawk on Iran, last week said the US would maintain a presence in Syria even after the Islamic State group has been defeated.
"We're not going to leave (Syria) as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders," Bolton said.
"That includes Iranian proxies and militias," he added, going on to warn of Tehran of "hell to pay" if it threatens the US or its allies.
James Jeffrey, the US special representative on Syria, later said a continued US presence in the war-torn country did not necessarily mean American boots on the ground.
Votel has not received any "direct military tasks" in terms of the Trump administration's pressure campaign, but he said the Pentagon remains "prepared to respond rapidly and massively if the situation requires".