US asks Germany to take part in maritime security mission in Gulf

BERLIN, dpa correspondents (dpa)- The United States has formally asked Germany to take part in a mission providing security for trade activities in the Strait of Hormuz, the US embassy in Berlin said on Tuesday.
However, the German Foreign Office and several politicians said on Tuesday that they did not expect any German participation in the US-led mission.

"We've formally asked Germany to join France and the UK to help secure the Straits [sic] of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression," embassy spokeswoman Tamara Sternberg-Greller said.
"Members of the German government have been clear that freedom of navigation should be protected," she said. "Our question is, protected by whom?"
However, the German Foreign Office told dpa that "the German government has so far not offered any indication that it would participate in the US-led security mission in the Strait of Hormuz."
The Foreign Office added that the German government would continue to support a coordinated European effort towards de-escalation with Iran. 
Tensions in the Gulf again spiked when British Royal Marines assisted in capturing an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar in early July. London had said it believed the vessel was transporting oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.
Iran appeared to retaliate by seizing the British-flagged Stena Impero and the Panama-flagged MT Riah in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping route between Iran and Oman, prompting Britain to propose sending a European-led maritime security mission to the region.
Several EU member states have expressed interest in the mission to ensure safe travel of cargo.
According to diplomatic sources in Brussels, countries including Denmark, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden have expressed interest. France is also thought to be in favour, although Paris has different ideas on the details.
"We continue to work with all our international partners and aim to bring together as many nations as possible to protect shipping lanes in the Gulf," the British government said in a statement on Tuesday.
The United States has a major stake in the naval spat: It has launched a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran in the wake of Washington's exit from the 2015 international Iranian nuclear accord and has repeatedly accused Iran of military aggressions in the region. 
Germany wishes to distance itself from Trump's campaign against Iran, which is why it is unlikely Germany will participate in the mission in the Strait of Hormuz. 
"A joint mission with the US can not currently exist, because Europeans represent a fundamentally different policy towards Iran," said Norbert Roettgen, a member of the German government's foreign policy commission. 
Sevim Dagdelen, deputy parliamentary party leader in the Bundestag for the hard-left Die Linke (The Left), told dpa that her party would not stand for cooperating with the US on this issue. 
"German soldiers cannot be involved in a planned war adventure with US President Donald Trump and his British poodle Boris Johnson," she said on Tuesday. 
"We've asked the Brits, the French, the Germans, the Norwegians, the Japanese, the South Koreans, the Australians - I'm sure I missed a few," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday in an interview with Fox News. 
"Every country that has an interest in ensuring that those waterways are open and crude oil and other products can flow through the Strait of Hormuz needs to participate to protect not only their own interests, but the fundamental understanding of free and open waterways," Pompeo said.

Tuesday, July 30th 2019
dpa correspondents (dpa)

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