Mike Pompeo

Trump tells defense secretary he doesn't want war with Iran

Trump and Shanahan (L) in a meeting witht he top U.S. military brass. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and other top officials on Wednesday that he does not want his "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran to escalate to war, the NY Times reports.

Between the lines: National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been sounding the alarm about impending attacks from Iran and warning of "unrelenting force" if necessary. Trump has long been wary of a new military engagement in the Middle East, and this is the clearest signal yet that the current standoff with Iran is no exception.

Expert Voices

Amid U.S.–Russia standoffs, Putin looks for an opening in Sochi

Mike Pompeo and Sergey Lavrov
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Russia, on May 14. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets in Sochi on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin to discuss a long list of issues on which the U.S. and Russia are at complete odds with each other.

The big picture: The agenda for the talks — the first high-level meeting with Russian officials since last summer's widely criticized Helsinki Summit — includes arms control, Venezuela, Ukraine, Syria and Iran, according to the State Department. While it's unlikely the needle will move on any of these sources of longstanding disagreement, Sochi may help prepare for future summits.