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Trump says he hopes for no war as US-Iran tensions escalate

AP  |  Washington 

says he hopes the US is not on a path to war with amid fears that his two most hawkish advisers could be angling for such a conflict with the Islamic Republic.

Asked Thursday if the US was going to war with Iran, the replied, "I hope not" a day after he repeated a desire for dialogue, tweeting, "I'm sure that will want to talk soon."

The tone contrasted with a series of moves by the US and that have sharply escalated tensions in the in recent days.

For the past year, and have been the public face of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against

On Friday, an with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard warned that Iranian missiles can "easily reach warships" in the and elsewhere in the

The semi-agency quoted as saying that Iran's missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometers about 1,250 miles and can attack any target in the region.

The escalating rhetoric has rattled lawmakers who are demanding more information on the White House's claims of rising Iranian aggression. Top leaders in received a classified briefing on Iran on Thursday, but many other lawmakers from both parties have criticized the for not keeping them informed.

Iran poses a particular challenge for Trump. While he talks tough against foreign adversaries to the delight of his supporters, a military confrontation with Iran could make him appear to be backtracking on a campaign pledge to keep out of foreign entanglements.

Lawmakers and allies, however, worry that any erratic or miscalculated response from Trump could send the US careening into conflict.

Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and reinstated sanctions on that are crippling its economy.

Tensions rose dramatically May 5, when Bolton announced that the would be rushed from the to the ahead of schedule in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings," without going into details.

Since then, four oil tankers, including two belonging to Saudi Arabia, were targeted in an apparent act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to officials in the region, and a Saudi pipeline was attacked by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels from

The US also ordered non-essential staff out of and has dispatched additional military assets to the region.

The will receive a classified briefing on Iran on Tuesday, according to of Idaho, the of the The House has requested a classified briefing as well.

said briefings are necessary because informing leaders "is no substitute for the full membership of the "

She said a failure to inform lawmakers is "part of a pattern" for the "that is not right," because the power to declare war resides with

"I hope that the president's advisers recognize that they have no authorization to go forward in any way" against Iran, Pelosi said.

Trump has dismissed suggestions that any of his advisers, particularly Bolton, are pushing him into a conflict.

"John has strong views on things, but that's OK. I actually temper John, which is pretty amazing isn't it?" Trump said recently when asked if he was satisfied with Bolton's advice.

"I have different sides. I mean, I have John Bolton, and I have other people that are a little more dovish than him. And ultimately I make the decision."

Mark Dubowitz, an advocate of a hardline policy toward Iran and of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, "Trump is smart to let these advisers play the roles they play and it really does help him lay the table for negotiation, but ultimately, it comes back to his ability to oversee a negotiation and do so wisely and judiciously, and that's an open question."

Tensions started to spiral last year when Trump pulled out of a deal the U.S. and other world powers signed with Iran during the The deal lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing of its nuclear programme.

Trump agreed with critics of the deal that it didn't address Tehran's work on ballistic missiles or its support of militant groups around the region. His administration reinstated sanctions that had been lifted under the deal the Europeans and other signatories are still in it and has piled on more.

Trita Parsi, an at who advised the on Iran, thinks the Iranians are trying to exploit Trump and Bolton's divergence on foreign policy issues.

He cited a recent tweet from Hessamoddin Ashena, an to Iranian Hassan Rouhani, directed squarely at Trump and Bolton, who is easily recognized in public by his white, bushy mustache.

"You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead. That's what happens when you listen to the mustache," the Iranian said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 17 2019. 22:21 IST