Pentagon nominee argues for diplomatic approach to Iran

Pentagon nominee argues for diplomatic approach to Iran
Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Pentagon has told his Senate confirmation hearing that the United States should pursue diplomatic solutions to its differences with Iran and avoid war.

Mark Esper, who was nominated by Trump on Monday, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, “We do not want war with Iran.” He argued for pursuing what he called “the diplomatic channel.”

Esper said the administration plans to brief the Armed Services Committee soon on a plan for working with other countries to more closely monitor commercial shipping in and around the Persian Gul f. He said this plan, which he called “Operation Sentinel,” is intended to deter Iran from impeding navigation in the Gulf.

Esper currently is serving as the Army’s top civilian official.