May 21, 2019
President Donald Trump on Monday said Washington has not approached Iran for talks as Britain warned Tehran not to underestimate the resolve of the United States, warning that if American interests were attacked then the administration of Donald Trump would retaliate.
“I would say to the Iranians: Do not underestimate the resolve on the US side,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
“They don’t want a war with Iran. But if American interests are attacked, they will retaliate. And that is something that the Iranians needs to think about very, very carefully.”
Hunt added that Britain has had a lot of discussions with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Iran.
He said he hopes Iran starts to “pull back from the destabilizing activities” it conducts in the region.
The foreign secretary acknowledged the danger the tensions posed for the wider Middle East.
“We want the situation to de-escalate because this is a part of the world where things can get triggered accidentally,” Hunt said.
Hours later, Trump said that if Tehran wants to negotiate, it will have to take the first step.
“The Fake News put out a typically false statement, without any knowledge that the United States was trying to set up a negotiation with Iran. This is a false report,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse – very sad for the Iranian people!” Trump tweeted.
Meanwhile, the UN says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is asking all parties involved in escalating tensions between the US and Iran “to lower the rhetoric and lower the threshold of action as well.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric reiterated to reporters Monday that “we are concerned about the rising rhetoric.”
He said the secretary-general is also concerned at the rocket launch that seemed to be aimed toward the US Embassy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Dujarrics said: “It is a very volatile region. Any developments, whether they are actions on the ground or whether they are rhetoric, can always be misinterpreted and can only heighten the risk of a volatile region becoming even more volatile.”
On Sunday, Trump warned Iran not to threaten the US again or it would face its “official end,” shortly after a rocket landed near the US Embassy in Baghdad.
Trump’s tweet followed days of heightened tension sparked by his administration’s sudden deployment of bombers and an aircraft carrier to theGulf over unspecified threats from Iran.