WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he hopes the U.S. is not on a path to war with Iran amid fears that his two most hawkish advisers could be angling for such a conflict with the Islamic Republic.

Asked if the U.S. was going to war with Iran, the president replied, "I hope not" — a day after he repeated a desire for dialogue, tweeting, "I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon."

The tone contrasted with a series of moves by the U.S. and Iran that have sharply escalated tensions in the Middle East in recent days. For the past year, national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been the public face of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran.

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