Prime Minister Morrison urges US to remain calm over increasingly rogue Iran
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged calm over the question of what the United States may do about what it sees as an increasingly rogue Iran.
And he has insisted that all Australia has agreed to do in the region at this stage is assist freedom of navigation exercises.
US President Donald Trump raised the possibility of military or even nuclear strikes on Iran at the start of his meeting with Mr Morrison in the White House on Friday.
But he walked it back later in the same remarks, saying: "I think the strong person's approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint."
Mr Morrison said no operations were discussed other than what Australia has already agreed to.
"There is an instinct towards restraint from the president and I commended him for that, and it was good to have the opportunity to confirm that again in the course of our discussions," he told reporters in Washington on Saturday local time.
"I think that people need to be careful about getting ahead of themselves and running off on where these things might go.
"These matters are dealt with, I think, in a very iterative way and I think that's what you're seeing."
Australia will send troops, a surveillance plane and a Navy frigate for six months to a US-led effort to protect shipping lanes from Iran.
"I made it very clear when we announced our involvement in that arrangement that it was very much about that freedom of navigation issue and that's what it is about, and that's appreciated," Mr Morrison said.
"And when I met with Secretary (of Defence Mark) Esper yesterday afternoon, we had a further discussion about those arrangements and how they're working with some other partners as well, and I welcome that."
Mr Trump announced even stronger sanctions on Iran at that same meeting with the prime minister.
And he will focus on Iran's "escalatory violence" as a theme of his speech and meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week, a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing on Saturday.
"We welcome this opportunity to consult with a broad range of partners and allies on our collective response," the official said.
Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon welcomed Mr Morrison's comments urging calm on Iran.
"It's all right for Scott Morrison to go to Washington and have the silver cutlery out and the black tie and the champagne and all the rest," he told Sky News.
"What we don't know is how forceful Scott Morrison was behind the scenes.
"At least on this matter, he's made it very, very clear that he wants de-escalation, not escalation."
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