Trump says he will send 1,500 troops to Middle East

By Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran. However, the Republican leader played down the potential for military conflict in the region, saying he believed Iran did not want a confrontation with the United States

Reuters May 25, 2019 00:06:55 IST
Trump says he will send 1,500 troops to Middle East

Trump says he will send 1500 troops to Middle East

By Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he will send about 1,500 American troops to the Middle East, mostly as a protective measure, amid heightened tensions with Iran.

However, the Republican leader played down the potential for military conflict in the region, saying he believed Iran did not want a confrontation with the United States.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.

The Pentagon said only about 900 of the 1,500 troops will be newly deploying and that 600 are already in the region and will be extended. It said they include Patriot missile battery personnel, manning for surveillance aircraft and engineers.

"Right now, I don't think Iran wants to fight. And I certainly don't think they want to fight with us," Trump said.

"But they cannot have nuclear weapons," he continued. "They can't have nuclear weapons. And they understand that."

The U.S. military deployed a carrier strike group, bombers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East earlier this month in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.

Rhetoric between Tehran and Washington has escalated in recent weeks as the United States tightened sanctions with what it said was the goal of pushing Iran to make concessions beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers a year ago and now is seeking to block all Iranian oil exports.

Washington believes a series of recent attacks in the region may have been inspired by Iran, including a rocket attack in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone and what Saudi Arabia described as armed drone attacks on two oil pumping stations and the sabotage of four vessels including two Saudi oil tankers.

Trump warned on Monday that Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Paul Simao and Susan Thomas)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.