22:06 GMT29 January 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford has cancelled his trip to NATO on Wednesday due to unforeseen commitments that require him to stay in Washington, Joint Staff spokesperson Navy Lt. Cmdr. Hayley Sims told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    "He cancelled his trip due to unforeseen commitments that are requiring him to stay here in DC," Sims said.

    The spokeswoman did not specify what commitments prompted Dunford to call off the trip.

    Dunford, along with other top security officials in the Trump administration, is scheduled to appear before the US House of Representatives and the Senate on Tuesday to brief members of Congress about the escalating tensions between the US and Iran.

    US-Iranian tensions first flared up last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and started reinstating sanctions against Tehran. On May 8, Iran announced its decision to partially discontinue its obligations under the nuclear agreement.

    READ MORE: US Reportedly Warns EU Against Developing Own Arms Projects, Exposing NATO Rift

    On May 5, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the US had stepped up its military forces in the Middle East to send a "clear and unmistakable" message to Iran.

    The enhanced deployment includes an aircraft carrier strike group, Patriot missiles, B-52 bombers and F-15 fighters, according to the Pentagon. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Iran does not intend to wage war with the United States but will continue to resist Washington.

    By Hansjuergen Mai

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