Politics 16:02 24/05/2019 World

Trump doubts need to bolster US troops in Middle East

President Donald Trump does not think additional US troops are needed in the Middle East to counter Iran, casting doubt on a Pentagon plan to bolster forces in the region, Al Jazeera reports.

"I don't think we're going to need them. I really don't," Trump told reporters on Thursday. "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 US 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."

But Shanahan, in remarks to reporters outside the Pentagon, dismissed reports suggesting specific numbers of troops were being considered at this point, saying: "As soon as there's a change, I'll give you an update."

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been steadily escalating in recent weeks as Trump tightens sanctions meant to cut off Iran's ability to sell oil in global markets.

The Trump administration is also warning of possible Iranian plots against the US and its allies.

Iran denies the accusations and Washington has not publicly shown any evidence of specific intelligence on what it says is an Iranian threat. Its claim has been met with widespread scepticism outside the US.

Any decision to send additional US troops would follow a move to accelerate the deployment of a carrier strike group to the Middle East and send bombers and Patriot missiles to the region in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran. 



Source Panorama.am
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