President Trump began his re-election rally by hammering his rivals and heralding his perceived successes. Erin Schaff-The New York Times

US President Donald Trump says he is not seeking war with Tehran, as he dispatched two top officials to the Middle East amid heightened tensions.

The downing of a US surveillance drone on Thursday by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards had brought the two foes to the brink of war. Tehran said the drone violated its airspace but Washington insisted it was flying over international waters in the Gulf.

Trump earlier said that he called off a military strike to retaliate for the downing of the unmanned aircraft out of concern it would have been a disproportionate response.

“I’m not looking for war,” Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press programme.

The US president has indicated that he would also be prepared to seek a deal to bolster Iran’s flagging economy, an apparent move to defuse tensions.

“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,” Trump said.

Last year Trump withdrew the US from a 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions. Relations in the region have worsened significantly since then.

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