MOSCOW (Sputnik) - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Sunday he was traveling to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for talks on Iran. Pompeo stressed he wanted to discuss with allies "how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition".
Earlier, Pompeo vowed to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran until Tehran chooses diplomacy over "violence", hinting that the Islamic republic "knows how to reach us".
"I’m heading out today. Our first stops will be in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two great allies in the challenge that Iran presents [...] and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world's largest state sponsor of terror", he told reporters before the flight.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been rising since Washington pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers last year.
The United States later unveiled rounds of sanctions against Iran, targeting its economic, financial and transportation sectors, among others. The situation worsened when Iran announced on 8 May that it had partially discontinued its commitments under the treaty agreement and gave Europe two months to ensure Iran's interests were protected under the deal.
US-Iran relations deteriorated further after a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The United States blamed the sabotage on Iran and boosted its military presence in the region, while Tehran dismissed the US claims.
In the wake of the attacks, US President Donald Trump ordered the warship Mason to be dispatched to the area, adding to the United States' already significant military presence in the region.
On Thursday, Tehran and Washington took a step closer toward a full-blown military confrontation after a US surveillance drone was shot down by Iran for violating the country’s airspace. The Pentagon maintains that the spy craft was in international airspace.
The US president suggested on Friday that he had stopped a military strike on Iran from going forward.
Later, Trump said in an interview with NBC that he would prefer to have talks rather than going to war with Iran. “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 said.
Pompeo emphasized that the Trump administration does not want a war, saying Washington seeks to "deter them from further aggression in the region".
Similarly, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Iran does not intend to wage war with the United States, but will continue to resist the US presence in the region.
Senior Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid warned Washington on Sunday against any military aggression, declaring that Iran will "powerfully defend" its interests.
The US has been reportedly trying in recent years to establish an anti-Iranian coalition resembling a NATO-like structure. In January, the Trump administration enhanced efforts to gain support in the Middle East by dispatching Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton for talks with US allies in the region.