US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the United States does not want war with Iran but vowed to keep pressuring Tehran.
"We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran," Pompeo told a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
But he added: "We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion."
Pompeo said that he spoke both to Lavrov and, on Monday in Brussels, to European allies about the threat the United States sees from Iran.
His remarks come after the United States deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East, although President Donald Trump denied a report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops.
"We are looking for Iran to behave like a normal country," Pompeo said, pointing in part to Tehran's backing of Houthi rebels in Yemen who are under attack from US ally Saudi Arabia.
Houthi rebels "are launching missiles into areas where there are Russians and Americans travelling. These missiles could easily kill a Russian or an American," Pompeo said.