WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump called stalled trade talks with America's biggest economic rival, China, just "a little squabble," even as Congress and the markets are increasingly unnerved by it, and, touching on another foreign policy hot spot, suggested he would send more than 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East to confront Iran.
The remarks came after The New York Times reported the administration is considering sending troops to the Middle East. The president already has ordered a carrier strike group and bomber wing to the region.
The commander in chief on Tuesday both dismissed the report and used it for saber rattling toward Tehran.
"We would send a hell of a lot more troops than that," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for an energy event and fundraisers in Louisiana.
Democrats like Senate Intelligence member Dianne Feinstein say the president and aides like national security adviser John Bolton have "raised tensions" to a point that their moves are "pushing us closer to another Middle East conflict."
"The president should reconsider his bellicose posturing and instead search for a diplomatic solution," the California Democrat said in a statement late last week. White House policies such as exiting a multicountry nuclear pact with Tehran and other moves are the reasons the Iranian government "expanded its hostile behavior," making it "clear the president's approach is failing," Feinstein said.
Republican members, as they have on so many hot-button issues, continue to stand by the GOP chief executive on Iran. They say his actions, including increased economic sanctions toward Iran, are justified and meant to get Iranian leaders to the negotiating table.
After months of focusing largely on the 2018 midterm elections then the special counsel's Russia election meddling report, Trump is juggling not only Iran but other foreign policy challenges.
That includes high-stakes trade talks.
"We're having a little squabble with China because we've been treated very unfairly for many, many decades. ... I think it's going to turn out extremely well," Trump said.