Bolton: Israel Justified in Striking Iranian Assets in Syria

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Dado Ruvic Reuters

Sanctions that the United States reimposed on Iran have been more effective than expected, though regime change there is not part of Washington's policy, President Donald Trump's national security adviser said on Wednesday.

John Bolton said Wednesday during a visit to Israel that USA officials have spoken with allies about what else could be done to achieve "maximum pressure" on Iran, including further sanctions and other unspecified measures.

Bolton said differences over the alleged meddling had prevented the two sides from issuing a joint final statement after the first high-level meeting of its kind since Trump met President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July.

Bolton and Patrushev also discussed economic sanctions on Iran, with the former saying he explained Trump was seeking to "put maximum pressure on the regime".

Bolton, speaking to Reuters while on a visit to Israel, said United States contacts with Russian Federation did not include any understanding over a push by Damascus's forces against the rebels in Idlib.

Advisor to the President for national security John Bolton warned of the consequences that are possible in the case of RF interference in the Congressional elections.

Bolton said he and Patrushev had discussed nuclear nonproliferation, Iran, North Korea, arms control, and Middle East issues including Syria and Afghanistan.

"There should not be any doubt that the United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any contingency that Iran creates", Mr Bolton said.

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He said the USA should use "leverage" over Russian Federation, one of President Assad's two key backers, to force it to get rid of Iranian troops and influence over the regime.

Bolton, on his part, said that a considerable progress on certain issues was achieved during his negotiations with Patrushev. Patrushev also said he conveyed an invitation to Bolton and other U.S. officials to visit Russian Federation for additional talks in the future.

"So they said they were not going to sign this statement".

Bolton said that he also warned his Russian counterpart not to intervene the upcoming US midterm elections, saying that he made it clear the USA wouldn't tolerate election meddling in 2018 and they were prepared to "take necessary steps to prevent it from happening".

Separately related to Syria, Bolton had a warning for Assad as speculation increases over a Russian-backed government assault on northern Idlib province, home to the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

The president has instead often allowed for the possibility that other, usually unnamed, actors carried out an influence campaign, although the USA intelligence community concluded with high confidence past year that the Russian government, as ordered by Putin, aimed to help then-candidate Trump's electability while damaging the chances of Hillary Clinton.

"Of course not", Bolton said. "Have a little faith in the American people, who elected him president".

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