- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2019

President Trump said Monday an Iranian attack on the U.S. or its allies would be “met with great force,” though seemed to downplay the likelihood of an assault.

“I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything,” he told reporters as he left the White House for a Pennsylvania rally. “But we have no indication that they will.”

Mr. Trump is under pressure to explain his administration’s stance against the Islamic Republic, as members of Congress and allies say they fear the U.S. is saber-rattling its way into military conflict, despite the president’s own push to withdraw from lengthy conflicts abroad.

The administration pulled out from the Obama-era nuclear deal and has slapped more sanctions on Tehran in recent months, leading to an escalation of friction in the Middle East.

The White House says it’s important to take a hard line on Iran over its sponsorship of terrorism in the region.

As for the next step, Mr. Trump said, “We’ll see what happens.”

“If they call, we would certainly negotiate. That’s going to be up to them,” he said. “I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they’re not ready, they don’t have to bother.”

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