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Eight Countries to Participate in European-Led Naval Mission in Gulf

Eight Countries to Participate in European-Led Naval Mission in Gulf

Tuesday, 21 January, 2020 - 15:15
Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo
Paris- Michel Abu Najm

Eight EU member states have announced their support for a European-led maritime surveillance mission in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic route for world oil supplies.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal backed the new force, as announced in a statement issued by France’s Foreign Ministry on Monday.

Paris, the unofficial spokesperson for the initiative, was keen to confirm that the European mission – which is aimed at ensuring safe maritime navigation and reducing escalation in the region - came in line with other initiatives, specifically the US move seeking to establish a “maritime alliance” to ensure the security of the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf waters.

The American initiative includes, in addition to the United States, five of the six GCC States (excluding Oman), as well as Australia and Albania. Britain joined it only after Boris Johnson assumed his country’s premiership.

According to the statement issued by France, the European mission would conduct “increased monitoring” of the maritime situation, through the deployment of additional maritime controls in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

The move comes amid “rising insecurity and instability” in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz last year, the statement said, citing “multiple maritime and non-maritime incidents.”

“This situation has been affecting the freedom of navigation and the security of European and non-European vessels and crews in the area for months. It has also been jeopardizing trade and energy supplies with potential worldwide economic consequences,” it said.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Tuesday that South Korea’s military announced its plan to expand the deployment of an anti-piracy unit currently operating off the coast of Africa to the area around the Strait of Hormuz, after the United States pressed for help to guard oil tankers.

“The South Korean government decided to temporarily expand the deployment of the Cheonghae military unit,” Reuters quoted a ministry official as saying, adding that the step would ensure the safety of citizens and free navigation of South Korean vessels.

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