'I'd happily go to Iran for talks,' declares Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he is willing to go to Iran for talks amid tensions between Tehran and Washington.
But he also called on Japan, Britain and other nations to join a maritime force to guard oil tankers sailing through the Strait of Hormuz.
Asked if he would be willing to go to Tehran, Mr Pompeo said in an interview with Bloomberg TV: "Sure. If that's the call, I'd happily go there. I would welcome the chance to speak directly to the Iranian people."
Tensions have ratcheted up since President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iranian nuclear deal, saying it was not strong enough. Washington also reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
The prospect for dialogue appeared to recede on Wednesday when the top military adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would not negotiate with Washington under any circumstances.
The relationship has come under increased strained following attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.
In a separate interview, Mr Pompeo said Washington had already asked Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia and other nations to join a planned maritime security initiative in the Middle East.
"Every country that has an interest in ensuring that those waterways are open and crude oil and other products can flow through the Strait of Hormuz needs to participate," he said.
A senior diplomat in Japan said Mr Pompeo had talked with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by telephone, but that Japan was not in a position to decide if or how it could join any maritime force until the US provided a blueprint of how such an operation would work.