US President Donald Trump has denied that he needs a way out of his confrontation with Iran.

Asked by a reporter: "Do you have an exit strategy for Iran if war does break out?"

Trump replied: "You're not going to need an exit strategy. I don't need exit strategies."

The US still has thousands of troops in Afghanistan which is the longest war in America's history.

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Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said he believes Iran still takes his threats seriously after he canned a planned military strike last week.

The Trump Administration is aiming to persuade allies the confrontation with Iran, which threatened to worsen into a deadly shooting war last week, is "not Iran versus the United States" but rather a global challenge requiring global diplomacy, the new acting Pentagon chief said today.

Speaking to reporters travelling with him to a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels, Mark Esper said he wants to help form a broader coalition to deter Iran and compel its leaders to return to the negotiating table for nuclear talks.

Trump, who withdrew the US last year from an international deal to limit Iran's nuclear programme and then reinstated harsh economic sanctions, says he wants to work out an even more restrictive deal with Tehran.

Iran, however, denounced the latest US sanctions as "idiotic" and an obstacle to talks.

Today, Trump responded in kind, lashing Iran's leaders for rejecting his overtures and vowing that "any attack by Iran on anything American" would be answered with overwhelming US military force that "in some areas" would mean "obliteration."

- AP