Iran Says US Mission in Gulf Not Needed
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought once again on Wednesday to ease tensions with regional countries, while criticizing the American plan to set up an international alliance to secure commercial routes in the Gulf.
He said Iran and other Gulf states could protect the region’s security and foreign forces were not needed, state TV reported, repeating a longstanding rejection of a US maritime security mission in the region.
Regional countries have long been neighbors throughout history and division among them will play in the hands of enemies, he added.
Washington is lobbying international partners to join the maritime security coalition at a time of heightened tensions with Iran.
Britain last week Monday it was joining the United States in the maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect vessels after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker.
Traffic in the Hormuz Strait, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes, has become the focus of a standoff between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump quit a 2015 nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Iran says the responsibility of securing these waters lies with Tehran and other countries in the region.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that the maritime mission will be discussed during informal talks by European Union defense and foreign ministers in Finland later this month.
“I think the question of a European mission will be discussed there again because this discussion has not yet taken place everywhere and so I believe that the Finnish presidency will play a coordinating role on that,” Merkel told a news conference after meeting visiting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that Germany will not join the US-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz and that it favors a European mission but he has also warned it was rather difficult to make progress on that.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed earlier this week that Washington had approached 60 countries to join the mission. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had traveled to South Korea, Japan and Australia this month to also discuss the US proposal.