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Germany 'Reluctant' On U.S. Plan For Naval Patrols Off Iran

Updated

The United States has proposed its navy could lead a mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

Germany is "reluctant" to join a proposed U.S.-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz but would consider participating in a European mission, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government said July 31.

The government was responding to Washington's proposal a day earlier "to help secure" the world's busiest oil shipping lane and "combat Iranian aggression," which came at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Tehran.

Government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Berlin continued to support diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions that have risen sharply since U.S. President Donald Trump last year withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

"For us, it is important to pursue the avenue of diplomacy...and to seek talks with Iran to achieve a de-escalation," Demmer said.

"The U.S.A. recently presented their concept for a Persian Gulf maritime surveillance mission to several allies including Germany and asked for contributions," she said.

"The German government is reluctant about the concrete U.S. proposal and has therefore not offered a contribution, as the overall approach of our policy toward Iran differs significantly from the current U.S. approach."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said on July 31 that Germany will not take part in the American initiative. "Germany will not take part in the sea mission presented and planned by the Untied States," said Maas during a visit to Poland.

In Brussels, Germany's new Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer struck a more conciliatory note, saying no final decision had been made.

"We now have a first general request from the United States [and] the other international partners for a possible mission," she told reporters before a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

London last week ordered its navy to escort British-flagged vessels in the strait in response to Iranian soldiers seizing a tanker in the entrance to the Gulf.

Germany remained "in close coordination with France and Britain" on questions of maritime security, Demmer said, adding that Berlin believed the idea of a European naval mission was "worth considering."

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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