AFP: The United States is not seeking conflict with Iran and would prefer dialogue to resolve the escalating tension over Tehran’s nuclear progamme, the new chief of US Central Command said on Tuesday. ABU DHABI, April 24, 2007 (AFP) – The United States is not seeking conflict with Iran and would prefer dialogue to resolve the escalating tension over Tehran’s nuclear progamme, the new chief of US Central Command said on Tuesday.
“I am not interested in planning to attack Iran. I am very interested in trying to get the Iranians to come and start engaging in a meaningful dialogue,” Admiral William J. Fallon told reporters in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
He said Tehran should talk to the world and “particularly this (Gulf) region about the future and the role they (Iranians) may play, that I hope would be constructive rather than unhelpful and destabilising.”
Fallon was chosen in January to succeed retiring General John Abizaid as head of Central Command, overseeing US forces from North Africa to Central Asia. He took over in March.
He was responding to questions about the US military’s readiness to attack Iran without using its bases in Gulf Arab states after repeated statements by key US allies in the region pledging not to be part of any offensive.
The latest was Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, who said earlier this month that his country would “never be a launchpad for any harm against Iran.”
Qatar, a close ally of Washington, hosts two US military bases. As-Sayliyah, served as the coalition command and control centre during the 2003 Iraq war and Al-Udeid airbase was used by the US Air Force during the 2001 war on Afghanistan and in the aftermath of the Iraq war.
The US also has two aircraft carriers in the Gulf, the highest level US naval presence in the strategic oil shipping channel since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
Western countries want Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process used in the manufacture of nuclear fuel, over fears it could be diverted to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is only interested in produce nuclear energy.
Fallon held talks with Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE’s seven members, who is also deputy commander in chief of the UAE armed forces.