US not seek­ing war with Iran - top gen­eral

Observer on Saturday - - News - AFP

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".

WASH­ING­TON-

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