United States President Donald Trump on Monday said he was not looking for a “regime change” in Iran despite rising tensions between the two countries, AFP reported.

“I know so many people from Iran, these are great people, it has a chance to be a great country, with the same leadership,” Trump said at a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, where he is on a four-day state visit. “We’re not looking for regime change, I just want to make that clear. We’re looking for no nuclear weapons. I’m not looking to hurt Iran at all.”

The US president’s statement comes two days after the US said it was deploying 1,500 additional troops to counter “credible threats” from Tehran in its latest step of military escalations. Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated since Trump decided last year to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions on the country.

On Monday, Trump criticised the nuclear deal calling it horrible, but said he was open to new negotiations. He also backed Japan’s interest in using his country’s good ties with Iran to broker possible talks between the US and Iran, according to AP. “I know that the Prime Minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran so we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.

Trump said he also wanted to get the balance of trade between US and Japan “straightened out rapidly”. “I think we will be announcing some things probably in August that will be very good for both countries,” he said.

‘Kim Jong un a very smart man’, says Trump

Trump described North Korean leader Kim Jong un as a “very smart man” who understood that he needed to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula, AFP reported. “He [Kim] knows that with nuclear... only bad can happen,” Trump said. “He is a very smart man, he gets it well,” said Trump, while reiterating that that North Korea has “tremendous economic potential”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had Trump’s support for a proposed meeting with Kim, reported AFP. “I feel I have to meet face-to-face with Chairman Kim without attaching any preconditions and exchange frank views with him,” Abe said. ‘President Trump... said he will give full support needed for that.”

Abe is hoping for a summit with Kim to raise the matter of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s to train their spies in the Japanese language and culture.