(MENAFN - Nam News Network) WASHINGTON, July 23 (NNN-AGENCIES) — US President Donald Trump said it was becoming more difficult for him to think about negotiating with Iran, following a series of incidents that have sent tensions with the Islamic republic soaring.
'It's getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran,' Trump told reporters at the White House, hours after Tehran announced it arrested 17 people it said were part of a CIA spy ring.
Trump dismissed that claim as 'totally false,' and said late last week that a US Navy ship had destroyed an Iranian drone, an assertion rejected by Iran.
Asked if the US was leaning towards negotiation or conflict, Trump did little to reassure those who prefer the former in resolving one of the most explosive international crises of the day.
'I'm okay either way it goes,' said the president, who has imposed punishing sanctions on Tehran while also repeatedly calling for dialogue.
Iran has publicly refused to take part in any talks held under pressure and meanwhile, tensions have mounted with drones shot down, oil tankers mysteriously attacked and ships seized by both Tehran and US ally Britain.
Separately, Trump offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, a move that would signal a shift in long-standing US policy that the issue must be solved bilaterally.
He said that he was making the offer after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested that he "mediate or arbitrate" the 70-year old territory dispute between the two nations.
'If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,' Trump said at the White House, where he was hosting Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. 'If I can do anything to help, let me know.'
Imran Khan is holding his first face-to-face talks with Trump during a trip to Washington DC.
The meeting is part of a push to mend relations, which have been strained by the Afghan conflict.
Trump reduced security aid to Pakistan early last year, accusing the country of "lies and deceit".
Trump said that Pakistan was helping the US to "extricate" its troops from Afghanistan, through political negotiations.
He is aiming to persuade Khan to pressure the Taliban into striking a peace deal with the Afghan government.
Khan praised the negotiations, saying: "There is no military solution in Afghanistan. If you go all out military, millions and millions of people will die." — NNN-AGENCIES