World

Trump uses rally to defend Iran policy as Democrats decry it

MILWAUKEE: As US President Donald Trump rallied supporters on Tuesday night by defending his decision to kill a top Iranian general, the Democrats vying to replace him used their final debate before primary voting begins to argue that doing so made the country less safe.

With Mr Trump firing up thousands in the state of Wisconsin and the Democratic candidates squaring off in Iowa ahead of its Feb 3 caucuses, the political events were expected to offer very different visions for the country's future.

But the contrast on Iran in nearly real time was especially stark.

"The Democrats are outraged that we killed this terrorist monster, even though this monster was behind hundreds and hundreds of deaths," Mr Trump told the crowd in downtown Milwaukee, referring to Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Moments later in neighbouring Iowa, Senator Bernie Sanders said he feared Mr Trump's actions in Iran could lead the US into a foreign policy quagmire of the highest level.

Mr Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said Mr Trump had campaigned on stopping "endless wars" only to bring the country closer to them.

And former Vice-President Joe Biden said Gen Soleimani's killing was dangerous and would not have been necessary if Mr Trump had not pulled the US out of a successful nuclear deal that the Obama administration had reached with Iran.

Senator Elizabeth Warren pledged to bring US combat troops back from the Middle East entirely, saying, "We should stop asking our military to solve problems that cannot be solved militarily."

Mr Trump also took on the leading Democratic candidates directly, saying of Mr Sanders: "Bernie and the radical left cannot protect your family, nor can they protect our country."

Yet the president also defended Mr Sanders in the ongoing he-said, she-said spat between Mr Sanders and Ms Warren, who has said Mr Sanders told her during a private meeting in 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the White House - a charge Mr Sanders vehemently denied.

Mr Trump also criticised Mr Biden's tendency to mix up locations, including recently confusing Iran with Iraq. - AP

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