President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is "sure" Iran will want to engage in dialogue "soon" amid a U.S. military buildup in the Middle East that his administration says is geared towards deterring unspecified threats from Tehran.
Neither Trump nor his top officials have elaborated on the nature of those threats as the U.S. sends an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region in what they call a precaution to deter any potential attack from Iran.
The president decried The Washington Post and New York Times for producing what he said were "fake news" stories alleging infighting within his administration "with respect to my strong policy in the Middle East".
"There is no infighting whatsoever," Trump said on Twitter. "Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision - it is a very simple process. All sides, views, and policies are covered. I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon."
It is unclear which stories in particular Trump was referring to, but the Post and the Times both reported that close U.S. allies in Europe are voicing strong skepticism about the threats described by the U.S., and several reports -- including those in the Times, Post and elsewhere -- have addressed sharp divisions between Iran hawks led by National Security Advisor John Bolton and others who are stressing the necessity of diplomacy with Iran.
Bolton played a key role in advancing the cause for the invasion of Iraq under then-President George W. Bush, but Bush ignored Bolton's efforts for military action on Iran.
After leaving his post as UN ambassador in 2006, Bolton called for military strikes on Iran and regime change there as a private citizen, efforts he continued right up until he joined the Trump administration in April 2018.
On Wednesday, the British deputy commander of the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition denied there has been an "increased threat" from Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria.
"We are monitoring the Shia militia groups I think you're referring to carefully," British Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika told reporters. "If the threat level perceives to go up, then we'll raise our force protection measures accordingly."
By Michael Hernandez in Washington