President Donald Trump on Friday castigated Iran for being a destabilizing force in the Middle East, saying at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that wherever there is a “problem” in the region, the Islamic Republic is “right there.”
Trump said that he and Merkel discussed Iran during their meeting earlier at the White House. Iran was expected to be a contentious issue between the two world leaders, as Trump has lambasted the Iran nuclear deal and threatened to withdraw from it while Merkel strongly supports the accord.
U.S. and European officials have been discussing a possible side agreement to the deal to address key concerns Trump has about its provisions. Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to continue suspending economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 deal but come up for periodic review.
“The Iranian regime fuels violence, bloodshed, and chaos all across the Middle East,” Trump said. “We must ensure that this murderous regime does not even get close to a nuclear weapon, and that Iran ends its proliferation of dangerous missiles and its support for terrorism.”
“No matter where you go in the Middle East, wherever there’s a problem, Iran is right there,” Trump added.
The State Department consistently names Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism in an annual report. Tehran, whose leaders have said they seek to destroy Israel, has steadfastly supported the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the ongoing conflict in Syria, and has provided weapons to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have fired missiles on U.S. Navy ships and Saudi Arabia.
Trump also warned that Iran must not “profit” from American success in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and called on U.S. allies in the Middle East to “step up their financial and military contributions for the anti-ISIS efforts.”
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