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US moves carriers as tension rises

By Li Ying (Global Times)

08:20, January 13, 2012

The US denied any link between the increase of aircraft carriers in the Gulf and recent tensions with Iran on Wednesday, while winning over more allies joining sanctions on the Islamic nation.

Military officials said the USS Carl Vinson arrived in the Arabian Sea on Monday to replace the outgoing USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group, which Iran last week warned not to return to the Gulf after departing in late December.

Another carrier strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, concluded a port visit to Thailand on Tuesday and was now in the Indian Ocean. It is on track to join the Vinson in the Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, which begins in the neighboring Arabian Sea.

"I don’t want to leave anybody with the impression that we’re somehow (speeding) two carriers over there because we’re concerned about what happened, you know, today in Iran. It’s just not the case,” Reuters quoted Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, as saying. ”We routinely operate our ships - all of our ships, all of our types of ships - inside the Arabian Gulf and that will continue,” Kirby said.

Meng Xiangqing, a security strategist at the People’s Liberation Army University of National Defense, told the Global Times that it is obviously unusual to have more than two carriers in the CENTCOM area at the same time.

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