The White House contacted Swiss officials on Thursday to share a phone number for Iran to directly call the US president after Donald Trump publicly appealed to Iran to call him for talks, CNN reported Friday.
The broadcaster cited a source as saying the Swiss likely won't hand over the number unless the Iranians specifically ask for it and it is thought they are highly unlikely to do so. White House officials say Trump's overtures are sincere.
The Swiss Embassy represents US interests in Tehran, where Washington has had no mission since 1980.
"I'd like to see them call me," Trump said of the Iranians in the White House on Thursday. He added: “They should call. If they do, we’re open to talk to them.”
Trump’s call for talks comes as the US is deploying an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to bolster an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers already sent to the Persian Gulf over alleged threats from Iran.
The Pentagon announced Friday, the USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, conventional landing craft and rotary aircraft, and the Patriot air defense system will join the Abraham Lincoln carrier group.
The carrier and a B-52 bomber task force were ordered toward the Persian Gulf, as Washington reiterated that intelligence reports suggested Iran was planning some sort of attack in the region.
CENTCOM, the US forces for the Middle East and Afghanistan, said Friday on Twitter that the B-52 bombers arrived at the area of operations on May 8, without saying where they had landed.
Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton has said the deployment aimed to send a "clear and unmistakable" message to Iran about any attack against the US or its partners in the region.
Washington has not elaborated on the alleged threat, drawing criticism that it is overreacting and unnecessarily driving up tensions in the region.
The Pentagon said the deployments were "in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests".
Several defense officials said they have not yet seen any tangible move by Iran in reaction to the US military shifts in the area. They also noted there have been no attacks.
"The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region."
Earlier in the week Iran shrugged off the carrier deployment.
"Bolton's statement is a clumsy use of an out-of-date event for psychological warfare," Iran's Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi said.
In May last year, Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran' and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions.
On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would no longer implement parts of the deal and threatened to go further if the remaining members of the pact, including the European Union, failed to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance Trump's renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days.
AFP, AP and Press TV also contributed to this story.