U.S. lawmakers see tamping down of Trump rhetoric on Iran
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump's administration wants to deter Tehran's aggression, not attack the Islamic republic, members of Congress said.
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials who briefed Congress about Iran on Tuesday sought to convince lawmakers that President Donald Trump's administration wants to deter Tehran's aggression, not attack the Islamic republic, members of Congress said.
"I hope they're tamping down (the rhetoric). They tried to give that impression," Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters after the classified briefing for the full House of Representatives.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan held the briefing after lawmakers, including Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, clamoured for weeks for more information about escalating tensions with Iran.
The administration officials held a similar briefing, also behind closed doors, for the full Senate later on Tuesday.
"There is no intention to go to war in the region. This is a deterrent operation to stop Iran's escalation and aggression," Representative Mike McCaul, the ranking Republican on the foreign affairs panel, told reporters.
Tehran and Washington have been escalating rhetoric against each other in recent weeks, following Trump's decision to try to cut Iran's oil exports to zero and beef up the U.S. military presence in the Gulf in response to what he said were Iranian threats.
Trump said the tightened sanctions were intended to push Iran to make concessions beyond the terms of the 2015 international deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. Trump withdrew the United States from the pact a year ago.
Last week, Washington pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday rejected talks with the United States, after Trump said Iran would call and ask for negotiations "if and when they are ever ready."
After the briefing, which some participants said had become heated at times, some Democrats accused the administration officials of twisting intelligence to make the case for an aggressive response to any Iranian actions.
"In my opinion, there was not any information there that pointed to any reason why we should be engaging in talk of war with Iran," said Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee.
(Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by James Dalgleish)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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
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.