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Pompeo says US is working on Iran diplomacy after ‘act of war’

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks to the media in the press briefing room at the State Department on April 22, 2019, in Washington.

MICHAEL GROSS, ZUMA PRESS/TNS

By MARK NIQUETTE | Bloomberg News | Published: September 22, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the U.S. is “working diligently” toward a diplomatic resolution with Iran after accusing the Islamic republic of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields, but that President Donald Trump is prepared to take other action if necessary.

“Make no mistake about it, if we’re unsuccessful in that and Iran continues to strike out in this way, I am confident that President Trump will make the decisions necessary to achieve our objectives,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, one of multiple TV appearances ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

Top Pentagon officials on Friday said the U.S. will send a “moderate” number of troops to the Middle East and additional missile defense capabilities to Saudi Arabia in response to last weekend’s attack on oil facilities, which disrupted about 5% of global oil production.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif refused to rule out military conflict in the Middle East, saying in an interview to be broadcast Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “I’m not confident that we can avoid a war.”

Asked whether he’s confident of avoiding a war, Pompeo said, “we’re working towards that.” In a interview airing on CBS, Pompeo said the U.S. will respond in a way that reflects what he called “an attack by Iran on the world” and a “state-on-state act of war.”

Pompeo said the U.S. maximum-pressure campaign, which includes sanctions on Iran’s central bank and sovereign-wealth fund, is working and that the Iranian economy will shrink by about 10% to 15% this year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said there’s still room for more sanctions.

“Although we’re pretty much maxed out on Iran, we will begin to sanction third-party entities where we see violations,” he said.

With assistance from Laura Litvan, Tony Capaccio, Glen Carey and Saleha Mohsin.

©2019 Bloomberg News
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