DUBAI - Iran has called off a deployment of warships to the Atlantic Ocean, the semi-official Fars news agency said on Sunday, shelving plans for its vessels to approach US maritime borders in response to the US navy's presence in the Gulf.

A senior Iranian naval commander was quoted in February as saying that several warships would be sent towards US maritime borders in the Atlantic although the Pentagon said at the time that it was not concerned and that many countries operated in the ocean's international waters.

But on Sunday, Fars quoted Navy commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari as saying: "Due to a change in schedule, the battle Group-29 of the naval forces of the Iranian navy will not head to the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the mission will possibly be given to another group."

He gave no reason for the decision but said warships' missions were likely to change "depending on the situation in the region", such as a rise in piracy in the Gulf of Aden.


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