The Latest: Trump says threats led to carrier deployment

The Latest: Trump says threats led to carrier deployment

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BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the crisis surrounding Iran's decision to step away from the embattled nuclear deal with world powers (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. sent an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf because the Iranians "were threatening," telling reporters coyly: "We have information that you don't want to know about."

Trump also says Thursday he'd like to see the Iranians call him, but claims former Secretary of State John Kerry advised them not to. He's accusing Kerry of violating the Logan Act, which makes it a crime for people outside the United States government to negotiate with foreign countries, and says Kerry should be prosecuted.

Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday night that the U.S. was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.

Trump says the risk of a military confrontation is "always" present, but adds, "hopefully that won't happen."


7:15 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has highlighted the "differences of opinion with the United States" in her assessment of the Iran nuclear standoff and said a united Europe is essential in facing the crisis.

Merkel said after an EU summit in Romania: "We're not in favor of an escalation of the situation but rather on using further diplomatic means."

She continued: "We also know our limits, but the more unified Europe appears -- that was the common position here -- the greater our chances are to perhaps increase the likelihood and chances of realizing solutions through talks."

Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron said the nuclear deal had to be saved and that the accord's signatories should do all they can to ensure that the Islamic Republic respects it.


3:20 p.m.

The parliamentary bloc of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group has blasted the United States over new sanctions it imposed on Iran, describing them as "unjustified."

The bloc said in a statement Thursday that the American moves against Iran show the U.S. administration's "tyrannical and dictatorial trend."

Hezbollah, which is backed and armed by Iran and is represented in Lebanon's Cabinet and parliament has been hit by U.S. sanctions for many years.

The group says that America's unilateral sanctions do no respect international laws and Washington "behaves in accordance with the law of the jungle."

It said Iran has the power to defend itself.


2:20 p.m.

The head of Egypt's port authority says the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln has passed through the Suez Canal on its way to the Persian Gulf amid an escalation with Iran.

The state MENA news agency quoted Mohab Mameesh, the Suez Canal authority chief, as saying he observed the passage of the carrier through the canal on Thursday morning.

MENA says the director also met the U.S. defense attache in Cairo, Gen. Ralph Groover, who had travelled to the Suez Canal area to check on the status of the U.S. warship.

The White House on Sunday dispatched the aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf. On Wednesday, Rouhani threatened Iran could start to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in two months.


12:10 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says the Iran nuclear deal must be saved and that the accord's signatories should do all they can to ensure that the Islamic Republic respects it.

Macron told reporters on Thursday that "Iran must remain in this agreement and we must do everything we can to ensure that it stays in."

Speaking ahead of an EU summit in Romania, Macron lauded the 2015 deal curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions as "a good agreement."

But he said it should be completed with other pacts governing Iran's missile development and its potentially destabilizing role in the Middle East.

Amid heated rhetoric from Tehran and Washington in recent days, Macron urged the signatories not to "get caught up in any escalation" and to "jointly watch over our collective security."


10 a.m.

The European Union is urging Iran to respect the international agreement curbing the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions and says it aims to continue trading with the country despite U.S. sanctions.

The EU and major European powers — Britain, France and Germany — said on Thursday that they "note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments" to the nuclear deal.

They said in a statement that "we remain fully committed to the preservation and full implementation" of the deal, endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal a year ago.

The EU powers say they "regret the re-imposition of sanctions" by the U.S. and remain "determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran."

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