2020 Democratic presidential candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Axio's Mike Allen in an interview on HBO that he would not reverse U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"I don't know that we'd gain much by moving it to Tel Aviv," Buttigieg told Allen, but added, "Look, we need a big-picture strategy on the Middle East."
Allen pushed Buttigieg, "So President Trump did the right thing?"
Buttigieg shot back, "I didn't say that." Buttigieg explained his position, "It’s the same thing with recognition of the Golan. Look, the Israeli claims in the Golan or not something to be ignored. They have a lot to do with legitimate security interests. But when we did that, we were doing something that could have been part of a negotiated package, and instead we just gave it away.
Buttigieg on Sunday also accused Trump of “a destabilizing chain reaction” initiated by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal in the Middle East.
Buttigieg made the remark on CNN with Jake Tapper in response to a question about how he would, as president, respond to the recent tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Buttigieg insisted that the U.S. needed to gather more intelligence on the attacks, but cautioned that the Trump administration’s rhetoric was reminiscent of the run-up to the Iraq war and noted that “an architect” of that conflict is now Trump’s national security adviser - John Bolton.
Buttigieg also appeared on “Meet the Press” where he argued that the U.S. needs to reassess its close ties to Saudi Arabia.
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“We have a close relationship in many regards,” Buttigieg said. “We should consider putting the brakes on that relationship at a moment when, again, our values are being called into question because the president seems to think that a pending arms deal is more important than speaking up about the fact that an American resident, a journalist, was killed and dismembered.”
Buttigieg argued that while “no two countries are the same,” the U.S. must “stand up for human rights and the things we believe in as a country.”
Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal under which world powers agreed to ease international sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear work, said any move to close the Strait of Hormuz would not last long.
He also said he was open to holding talks with Iran, although Tehran said it had no plans to negotiate with the United States unless it reversed a decision on the nuclear deal.
Tehran and Washington have both said they have no interest in a war. But this has done little to assuage concerns that the arch foes could stumble into conflict.
A U.S. official told Reuters a surface-to-air missile was fired from Iranian territory on Thursday morning at a U.S. drone that was near Front Altair following the attack on the tanker. The missile did not hit the drone, the official said.
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the United States was "planning various contingencies" when asked if more military forces would be sent to the area, but added that the focus was on building an international consensus.
"We also need to broaden our support for this international situation," he told reporters on Friday.
Reuters contributed to this report