President Donald Trump spoke to reporters as he left the White House Monday evening, May 20, en route to a rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. The president indicated his intentions to meet provocations by Iran with “great force,” and said, “So with Iran we’ll see what happens but they’ve been very hostile, they’ve truly been the number one provocateur of terror … representing their country.”
In an obvious attempt to demonstrate that he intends to proceed with caution, the president said, “We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen but if it does it will be met obviously with great force. We’ll have no choice.”
The president also indicated a willingness to negotiate with Iran saying “We’ve not talked about it. We’ll see what happens if they call, we would certainly negotiate but that’s going to be up to them. I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they’re not ready they don’t have to bother.”
While the president had been downplaying the chances of potential conflict in recent days, the administration did recently sent an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Persian Gulf region, and withdrew nonessential personnel from Iraq, raising alarms over the possibility of a confrontation with Iran.
Last Sunday the U.S. Navy began exercises and training in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps and the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group in the Arabian Sea demonstrating strength and agility to deter conflict and protect U.S. strategic interests. The Navy said the exercises have already included air-to-air training maneuvers like steaming in formation.
Meanwhile, as thousands gathered Monday evening at the Energy Aviation Hangar in Montoursville to greet the president, a man carrying a “Build Me” sign and dressed in a suit designed to like a brick wall was invited onto the stage.
Includes reporting from The Associated Press and Heavy.com.