Amid Tough Talk, Trump Says He Could Be Iran's 'Best Friend' - NBC Connecticut
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

Amid Tough Talk, Trump Says He Could Be Iran's 'Best Friend'

The president's comments came as Iran summoned the United Arab Emirates' top envoy to Tehran

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    Trump Calls off Iran Strikes

    President Donald Trump confirmed on Twitter Friday that he was "cocked & loaded" to strike Iranian targets, but deemed the loss of life would be disproportionate to the downing of a U.S. drone. (Published Friday, June 21, 2019)

    President Donald Trump said Saturday that military action against Iran was still an option for its downing of an unmanned U.S. military aircraft, but amid heightened tensions he dangled the prospect of eventually becoming an unlikely "best friend" of America's longtime Middle Eastern adversary.

    Trump also said "we very much appreciate" that Iran's Revolutionary Guard chose not to target a U.S. spy plane carrying more than 30 people.

    The president's softer tone Saturday marked a stark contrast to the anti-Iran rhetoric he employed throughout the presidential campaign and presidency, including his use of punishing economic sanctions in an attempt to pressure Iran to give up its quest to build nuclear weapons.

    "The fact is we're not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon," he said as he left the White House for a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat. "And when they agree to that, they are going to have a wealthy country, they're going to be so happy and I'm going to be their best friend."

    Senators React to Iran Shooting Down US Drone

    [NATL] Senators React to Iran Shooting Down US Drone

    Republican and Democratic Senators addressed the media on Thursday to talk about Iran shooting down a U.S. drone.

    (Published Thursday, June 20, 2019)

    "I hope that happens. I hope that happens, but it may not," Trump said. He later said Iran will be hit with unspecified new sanctions Monday.

    Days after he said it was "hard to believe" the shoot-down was intentional, Trump did an about-face and accused Iran of "knowingly" targeting the plane. And he reiterated that he aborted a planned military strike set for Thursday after learning approximately 150 Iranians would be killed.

    "Everybody was saying I'm a war monger. And now they say I'm a dove. And I think I'm neither, if you want to know the truth," Trump told reporters. "I'm a man with common sense. And that's what we need in this country, is common sense. But I didn't like the idea of them knowingly shooting down an unmanned drone and then we kill 150 people."

    He added: "I don't want to kill 150 Iranians. I don't want to kill 150 of anything or anybody unless it's absolutely necessary."

    Trump's comments came as Iran summoned the United Arab Emirates' top envoy to Tehran to protest the neighboring Arab nation's decision to allow the U.S. to use one of its military bases to launch the drone that Iran says entered its airspace, state media reported Saturday.

    Iran issued a "strong protest" to the UAE diplomat, saying Iran does not tolerate the facilitation of foreign forces that violate its territory, the report by the official IRNA news agency said.

    Pentagon Video Shows US Drone Downed by Iranian Missile

    [NATL] Pentagon Video Shows US Drone Downed by Iranian Missile

    Smoke billows from an U.S. Global Hawk drone that was hit by an Iranian missile over the Strait of Hormuz in video provided by the Pentagon. The U.S. military called the attack unprovoked and said the unmanned plane was over international waters, though Iran claimed the vehicle was violating its airspace.

    (Published Thursday, June 20, 2019)

    The U.S. said its RQ-4A Global Hawk was shot down Thursday over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, not inside Iranian airspace.

    The shoot-down by elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces marked the first time the Islamic Republic directly attacked the American military amid mounting tensions over Tehran's unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

    The two countries disputed the circumstances leading up to an Iranian surface-to-air missile bringing down the drone, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $100 million.

    British diplomat Andrew Murrison planned to visit Iran on Sunday to call for the "urgent de-escalation in the region and raise U.K. and international concerns about Iran's regional conduct" during talks with Tehran's government, Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement Saturday.

    Trump said U.S. sanctions on Iran have turned the country into an "economic mess" and he tweeted later Saturday about new penalties to be imposed on Monday, without providing details. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that Iran's financial sector would be penalized soon if it doesn't work to stop evading international guidelines designed to combat money laundering.

    The drone incident immediately heightened the crisis already gripping the wider region, which is rooted in Trump withdrawing the U.S. a year ago from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal and imposing crippling new sanctions on Tehran.

    Iran Shoots Down U.S. Military Drone

    [NATL] Iran Shoots Down U.S. Military Drone

    A U.S. drone was shot down in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, U.S. Central Command said, contradicting a claim by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that it had struck the aircraft after it entered Iranian airspace. The news comes amid rising tensions in the region, with American officials blaming Iran for what they said was an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Iran has denied any involvement.

    (Published Thursday, June 20, 2019)

    Recently, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal's terms by next week, while threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels July 7 if Europe doesn't offer it a new deal.

    In Iraq, security measures were increased at one of the country's largest air bases, which houses American trainers, a top Iraqi air force commander said Saturday. The U.S. military said operations at the base were going on as usual and there were no plans to evacuate personnel.

    Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi contributed to this report.