Trump ‘has no preconditions for talks with Iran’
Merkel: We are working on political solution
Iran said on Saturday it would respond firmly to any US threat amid escalating tension between Tehran and Washington over the shooting down of an intruding US drone by the Islamic Republic.
On Thursday, an Iranian missile destroyed a US Global Hawk spy drone over the country’s territory while the US said it had occurred in international airspace.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday he aborted a military strike to retaliate for Iran’s downing of the US drone because it could have killed 150 people, and signaled he was open to talks with Tehran.
“Regardless of any decision they (US officials) make... we will not allow any of Iran’s borders to be violated. Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps struck a similar note
“This is our response to a violation of Iranian space and if the violation is repeated then our response will be repeated,” said Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRGC’s Aerospace Division.
“It’s possible that this infringement of the Americans was carried out by a general or some operators,” he added.
"We are not aware of this issue, but this is a violation of the international aviation regulations by a spy plane that faced our natural response," he said.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted despite Trump saying that he has no appetite to go to war with Iran. Tehran has also said it is not seeking a war but has warned of a “crushing” response if attacked.
Trump said on Friday he is not looking for war with Iran, but he warned that if a conflict did occur it would result in “obliteration.”
“I’m not looking for war, and if there is it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before. But I’m not looking to do that,” Trump told NBC News.
Trump also said he was about to approve strikes against Iran for the downing of the US drone, but didn’t like the idea of killing people in retaliation.
Trump said he asked his generals how many people might die in the operation. “And they came back and said ‘Sir, approximately 150.’ And I thought about it for a second. I said, ‘You know what? They shot down an unmanned drone ... and here we are sitting with 150 dead people.’ ... And I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was proportionate.”
After interviewing Trump for NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, NBC correspondent Chuck Todd said Trump had said he had no preconditions for talks with Iran and was willing to speak to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani or Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
“Any mistake by Iran’s enemies, in particular America and its regional allies, would be like firing at a powder keg that will burn America, its interests and its allies to the ground,” Senior spokesman of Iran’s Armed Forces Abolfazl Shekarchi said on Saturday.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned a diplomatic representative of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday because the UAE allowed the drone that was shot down to be launched from a US military base on its territory.
A senior Arab diplomat said the sharply increased tensions would further harm the crisis-hit Middle East region.
“Confrontation, whatever we think about Trump or Iran, will be disastrous for everyone,” the diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The United States and Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on May 12, both near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies. Iran has denied any involvement in those incidents.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Saturday for a political resolution of the crisis.
“There has to be a political solution and that is what we are working on,” Merkel said.
She also said the issue would be discussed at next week’s meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 leading economies in Japan, at least at a bilateral level.
Tensions began to worsen significantly when Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers and reimposed sanctions on the country. The sanctions had been lifted under the pact in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.
Iran has threatened to scale back its commitments to the deal if the European signatories to the deal fail to salvage it by shielding Tehran from US sanctions.
“The Europeans will not be given more time beyond July 8 to save the deal,” Mousavi said, referring to Iran’s deadline of 60 days that Tehran announced in May.
Press TV also contributed to this story.