US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he could not rule out a military confrontation with Iran given the heightened tensions between the two countries, Reuters reported.
The president also urged Iran’s leadership to sit down and talk with him about giving up Tehran’s nuclear program.
At an impromptu news conference at the White House, Trump declined to say what prompted him to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the region over what was described as unspecified threats.
“We have information that you don’t want to know about. They were very threatening and we have to have great security for this country and many other places,” he said, according to Reuters.
Trump was then asked whether there was a risk of military confrontation with the American military presence in the area.
“I guess you could say that always, right? I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen. We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that is loaded up and we don’t want to do anything,” he replied.
Earlier this week, US national security adviser announced the deployment, saying it was meant to send a clear message to Iran that any attack on US interests or its allies will be met with “unrelenting force.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said he approved the deployment because of "indications of a credible threat" by Iran.
Trump, who last year pulled Washington out of the 2015 nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran, on Thursday again expressed a willingness to meet Iranian leaders.
“What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down. We can make a deal, a fair deal, we just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons - not too much to ask. And we would help put them back to great shape,” he said.
“They should call. If they do, we’re open to talk to them,” added Trump.
Tensions have risen between the US and Iran since Trump left the deal and imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in early November.
On Wednesday, Iran announced it would reduce some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal but would not withdraw from it completely.