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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that the United States, which has had a naval presence in the Persian Gulf for nearly sixty years, intends to maintain a strong presence in the Persian Gulf, but it has no plans to attack Iran. He says,
"The president has made clear, the secretary of state has made clear, I have made clear -- nobody is planning -- we are not planning for a war with Iran."
What we are trying to do in Iraq, says Mr. Gates, is to "counter what the Iranians are doing to our soldiers":
"Their involvement in activities, particularly these explosively formed projectiles that are killing our troops."
Defense Secretary Gates says the deployment of a second U.S. aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf has mistakenly contributed to the impression of a U.S. plan to attack Iran:
"But really the purpose of that is simply to underscore to our friends, as well as to our potential adversaries in the region, that the United States has considered the Persian Gulf and that whole area, and stability in that area, to be a vital American national interest. A nd that has been the case for decades, under many, many presidents.
The United States, said Defense Secretary Gates, "wants to reinforce to our friends, in particular, that they can count on us having a presence and being strong in their area in protecting our interests and in protecting theirs."
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