Vice President Dick Cheney says the decision to deploy more U.S. naval ships to the Persian Gulf sends a "very strong signal" that the United States is working with allies to deal with what he called "the Iranian threat."

In an interview with Newsweek magazine published Sunday, Mr. Cheney says the United States is still interested in resolving issues with Iran through diplomacy.

The vice president also says U.S. officials have "no reason to doubt" Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to disarm Shi'ite militias.

White House officials in the past have questioned the prime minister's willingness to dismantle his Shi'ite supporters' armed groups.

Mr. Cheney said there is some evidence that Nouri al-Maliki has already begun cracking down on the groups by detaining as many as 600 militia members.

The vice president also said the conflict against what he called "extremist elements of Islam" could continue through the terms of the next "two or three or four" American presidents.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.