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US Navy Sends 3rd Carrier to Gulf Waters
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The US Navy said yesterday it had sent a third aircraft carrier to its Fifth Fleet area of operations, which includes waters close to Iran, whose row with the West over its nuclear plans has stoked regional tensions.

The carrier will join two aircraft carriers already in the area, which recently gave the US Navy its biggest presence in the Gulf since the Iraq War in 2003, a Navy spokeswoman said.

"(The carrier) Enterprise provides navy power to counter the assertive, disruptive and coercive behavior of some countries, as well as support our soldiers and marines in Iraq and Afghanistan," a US Navy statement said.

In May, a flotilla of US warships sailed through the narrowest point in the Gulf to hold exercises off Iran's coast in a major show of force.

Tension over Teheran's nuclear ambitions has raised regional fears of a military confrontation.

"These operations are not specifically aimed at Iran... We consider this time unprecedented in terms of the amount of insecurity and instability in the region," Navy spokeswoman Denise Garcia said, citing Somalia, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the Fifth Fleet's carriers was moored off the coast of India earlier this month. The Navy does not comment on its ships' future movements.

The Fifth Fleet's area of operations includes the Gulf, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

(China Daily via agencies July 11, 2007)

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