Asked if U.S. is going to war with Iran, President Donald Trump responds: 'I hope not'

John Fritze, Michael Collins and David Jackson

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump had a pithy response Thursday to what has become a pressing question around the world: Is his administration marching the United States into a war with Iran

"I hope not," the president told reporters at the White House. 

The three-word response was the latest case of the president adopting a wait-and-see stance amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Trump administration deployed an aircraft carrier ahead of schedule and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf to counter what the administration has described as threats from Tehran. 

Yet Trump has struggled to present a unified message on Iran. On the one hand the administration has sought to tamp down talk of a military confrontation with the country. On the other, Trump has said he would "absolutely" send ground troops to the region if needed. 

Trump and his aides have downplayed the prospects of military action with Iran in recent days. That includes a Wednesday tweet in which the president raised the prospect of diplomatic negotiations with the country’s leaders.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Asked if U.S. is going to war with Iran, President Donald Trump responds: 'I hope not'