The US president said he had called off an attack against Iran in response to the shooting down of an American drone because he “didn’t think it was proportionate”.
Yet Mr Trump also said the US military had identified Iranian targets for air strikes. “I have so many targets you wouldn’t believe … We have targets all over,” he told interviewer Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“I’m not looking for war and if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before. But I’m not looking to do that."
Mr Trump dismissed European leaders’ efforts to uphold the Iranian nuclear deal forged between world powers in 2015.
“I don’t care about the Europeans,” he said. “The Europeans are going out and making a lot of money … In France, they’re selling cars to Iran. They’re doing other things.”
He added: “And let me tell you, we’re very good to Europe. We take care of them. NATO, we spend a tremendous amount ... On trade, the European Union’s taken, really, they have really taken advantage of us for a long time.”
Mr Trump said he backed away from the planned strikes about 30 minutes before the planes were ready to leave after learning 150 people would be killed. “I didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was, I didn’t think it was proportionate.”
Asked by Mr Todd whether he felt pushed into military action by any of his team, such as national security adviser John Bolton, the US president said: “I have two groups of people. I have doves and I have hawks.
“Yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay? But that doesn't matter because I want both sides.”
Asked what he thinks Iran wants, Mr Trump said, “I think they want to negotiate. And I think they want to make a deal. And my deal is nuclear. Look, they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon ... I don’t think they like the position they’re in. Their economy is absolutely broken.”
Questioned about the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mr Trump said he did not discuss it during a phone call on Friday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
When asked about arms deals with Saudi Arabia, the president said: “I’m not like a fool that says, “We don’t want to do business with them.” And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They'll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese … Take their money. Take their money, Chuck.”
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