Trump rejects additional troop deployment to Middle East
Iran will not surrender to US pressure and will not abandon its goals even if it is bombed, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday, amid heightened tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States and concerns about a possible military confrontation.
“We need resistance, so our enemies know that if they bomb our land, and if our children are martyred, wounded or taken as prisoners, we will not give up on our goals for the independence of our country and our pride," Rouhani told a group of war veterans at a ceremony in Tehran in commemoration of the liberation of the southwestern Iranian port city of Khorramshahr during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Rouhani said that during the war imposed on Iran by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the Islamic Republic was under the pressure of a military aggression and occupation of its territory, but today it is "faced with an economic war and an attack on people's welfare."
The new war is more complicated than the previous one, Rouhani said, calling on the nation to remain resistant and united in the face of the US hegemony.
"The enemies are pressuring Iran to make it regret [fighting for] its independence and dignity, but the people will once again show the enemies' plots will not bear fruit," he noted.
“More than one year after the imposition of these severe sanctions, our people have not bowed to pressures despite facing difficulties in their lives,” Rouhani said.
Iran will not surrender abjectly in the face of US sanctions, Rouhani stated, adding, "We will defeat the enemy through sacrifice and unity.
"I explicitly declare that the Iranian nation will defeat the US, the Israeli regime, and the regional reactionaries through resistance and unity."
Trump wants Iran to come to the negotiating table to reach a new deal with more curbs on its nuclear and missile programs.
Rouhani and other Iranian officials have repeatedly said Iran would hold talks with US under pressure.
No more troops
President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not think additional U.S. troops are needed in the Middle East to counter Iran, casting doubt on a Pentagon plan to bolster forces in the region.
“I don’t think we’re going to need them. I really don’t,” Trump told reporters. “I would certainly send troops if we need them.” If needed, “we’ll be there in whatever number we need,” he added.
Trump, who has been focused on trying to reduce the number of US troops deployed around the world, spoke shortly before he was to be briefed at the White House on a new deployment plan by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Shanahan said the Pentagon was considering sending additional US troops to the Middle East as one of the ways to bolster protection for American forces there amid tensions with Iran.
“What we’re looking at is: Are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East?” Shanahan said.
“It may involve sending additional troops.”
Reiterating Iran’s stance, the spokesman for its Supreme National Security Council said Iran will not hold talks with the US "under any circumstances" while the rights of the Islamic Republic are not respected.
"We have said clearly... as long as the rights of our nation are not satisfied, as long as words don't change into action, our path will stay the same as now," Keivan Khosravi said,
Khosravi said there had been an uptick in official delegations traveling to Tehran from various capitals, although "most of them are coming on behalf of America."
"Without exception we have responded with the message of the Iranian nation's strength, reason and resistance" in line with the policies of the Islamic Republic, he added.
He did not elaborate, but the foreign minister of Oman, which in the past helped pave the way for negotiations between Iran and the United States, met on Monday in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Omani Foreign Ministry tweeted on Friday the country is trying “with other parties” to reduce tensions between the United States and Iran.
The tweet cited Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s foreign minister.
“There is a danger that a war breaks out, hurting the whole world ... Both parties, the American and the Iranian, are aware of the danger,” the tweet cited the Omani minister as saying in an interview with an Arabic publication.
Oman maintains friendly ties with both Iran and the United States and has previously been an important go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations in 1980.
Another country trying to avert a confrontation in the region is Iraq. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that Baghdad would send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help reduce tensions.
Jens Ploetner, a political director in Germany’s Foreign Ministry, was in Tehran on Thursday for meetings with Iranian officials to try to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and cool tensions in the region.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s top military chief said the standoff between Tehran and Washington was a “clash of wills.”
“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.
He pointed to a battle during the Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”
Reuters, AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.