US President Donald Trump reportedly informed acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that he does not want to see the US go to war with Iran, The Hill reported Thursday, citing The New York Times.
According to the report, Trump raised the issue on Wednesday during a briefing on the status of US forces in the Middle East in the White House Situation Room. The president reportedly directly informed Shanahan that he did not want to see a conflict between the two countries.
Thursday’s report follows a Washington Post report earlier this week which said that Shanahan had presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.
The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by national security adviser John Bolton, the report said. The plan does not call for a land invasion of Iran.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post published a second report saying that Trump has grown frustrated with his top advisers over Iran who could rush the US into a military struggle with Tehran and break his campaign pledge to avoid costly foreign wars.
Trump has rejected reports of infighting among his staff.
“The Fake News Washington Post, and even more Fake News New York Times, are writing stories that there is infighting with respect to my strong policy in the Middle East. There is no infighting whatsoever,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
“Different opinions are expressed, and I make a decisive and simple decision — it’s a very simple process. All sides, views, and policies are covered,” he added.
The tensions between the US and Iran have intensified in the past week, after the US military deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East. US officials said the move was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
On Monday, Trump warned that Iran would “suffer greatly” if it targeted US interests.
“We’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it will be a very bad mistake. If they do anything they will suffer greatly,” he told reporters.
Last week, Trump urged Iran’s leaders to talk with him about giving up their nuclear program but also made clear he could not rule out a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.