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Pompeo cancels trip to Moscow amid tensions with Iran

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/407302c3af8a4af7c094ea3d96bb9bb5/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday canceled his trip to Moscow amid rising tensions with Iran.

Pompeo had planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss "bilateral and multilateral challenges," but instead will go to Brussels, Belgium, ahead of another stop in Russia. Russia has been an ally to Iran, which was hit with new U.S. sanctions last week.

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The State Department said Pompeo will travel to Brussels, where he'll discuss with European allies Iran's "threatening actions and statements," on his way to Sochi, Russia, but will not visit the capital. Pompeo is scheduled to be in Sochi on May 13-14.

The shift in plans followed a move last week by the U.S. military to send an aircraft carrier strike team, B-52 bombers and a Marine expeditionary unit to the Middle East as tensions escalated between Washington and Tehran.

Part of the rise in tensions has to do with the United States' withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran announced last week it would partially withdraw from the pact and demanded the other parties to the agreement protect Tehran from U.S. sanctions.

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Heightening the tensions, the United States in March designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Iran responded by putting the same designation on U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Pompeo has said military intervention remains a possibility if U.S. forces are attacked.

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