Haley: US 'not looking to do regime change anywhere'

Relations between US, Iran grow tense

By ELI WATKINS, CNN
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday that despite increased tension with Iran, the United States was not seeking regime change there or anywhere else.

"The United States is not looking to do regime change in Iran," Haley said on CNN's "State of the Union." "We're not looking to do regime change anywhere."

Haley's comments came as rhetoric between the two nations has grown increasingly heated, and as the Trump administration has made overt focus on Iran a cornerstone of its foreign policy, including President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and to reimpose sanctions on its economy.

Trump is due to chair a UN Security Council meeting in the coming days. In her CNN interview, Haley called on the international community to hold Iran to account.

Haley praised Trump as "very strong on Iran" and described Iran as "desperate."

"Iran's economy has plummeted because the President pulled out of the deal," Haley said.

Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said over the weekend that US sanctions on Iran could cause a "successful revolution," according to a report from Reuters. Pressed for a response to the reported comments, Haley denied the US sought "regime change," but also described the relationship between the two countries in stark terms.

"There is no love for Iran here in the United States, and there is no love for the United States in Iran, and both sides are going to go back and forth," Haley said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN in a recent interview that attacks by groups the US considered Iranian proxies on US interests would be met with a direct response, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif -- Pompeo's Iranian counterpart -- blamed a US-backed "foreign regime" for a deadly attack on an Iranian military parade this weekend.

An Iranian state-run news agency said the group Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz had claimed responsibility for the attack, and said the group was supported by foreigners, including Saudi Arabia. The group denied it was behind the attack, and a spokesman for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said the attackers were connected to a group that "is fed by Saudi Arabia." Saudi Arabia had yet to respond to the comments Saturday.

Pompeo addressed the accusation in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."

"I saw the comments of Zarif," Pompeo said. "When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake. And the loss of innocent life is tragic, and I wish Zarif would focus on keeping his own people secure rather than causing insecurity all around the world."

Pompeo also said that he did not know of any plans for Trump to speak with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN, but seemed to allow for the possibility that talks could occur at some point between Trump and the Iranians.

"The President has been pretty clear, if there are productive conversations to be had with the Iranians, the President is happy to have them," he said.

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