U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he hoped the United States was not heading to war with Iran as he prepared to meet with Switzerland President Ueli Maurer, whose nation has served as a diplomatic conduit between the two countries.
Asked if Washington was going to war with Tehran, Trump told reporters he "hope not" as he greeted Maurer at the White House.
Also Thursday, the New York Times reported that Trump told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, he does not want to go to war with Iran.
Citing unidentified administration officials, the report said Trump made the comment to Shanahan on Wednesday morning during a White House briefing on rising tensions with Tehran.
Tensions have escalated in recent days with increasing concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. Earlier this week the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following weekend attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.
Switzerland, a neutral country, has historically been a liaison between the United States and Iran which have no diplomatic relations.
The two discussed crises in the Middle East and Venezuela, White Housespokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. "President Trump expressed his gratitude for Switzerland's role in facilitating international mediation and diplomatic relations on behalf of the United States."
The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported late Wednesday that Trump preferred a diplomatic route with Iran and direct talks with its leaders but worried that some of his advisers were pushing war.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday welcomed what she called Trump's lack of "appetite" for military conflict with Tehran.
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