German Foreign Minister declines US request to join maritime mission in Strait of Hormuz

Government spokeswoman says Berlin is reluctant to join the US-led operation

epa07740308 A handout picture provided by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) shows the Stena Important being accompanied by the British Navy frigate HMS Montrose and the Sea Ploeg vessel through the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, 25 July 2019. The Royal Navy has started providing escort for British-flagged ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz  following Iran's seizure of British-flagged tanker Stena Impero.  EPA/MOD/BRITISH MINISTRY OF DEFENCE/HANDOUT MANDATORY CREDIT: MOD/CROWN COPYRIGHT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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Germany's Foreign Minister on Wednesday vehemently declined a US request to join a maritime surveillance mission in the Strait of Hormuz, criticising Washington's strategy of pressurising Tehran.

On a visit to Warsaw, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany "will not participate in the maritime mission proposed and planned by the US".

Mr Maas said that Germany was in close co-ordination with France in addressing the crisis.

Berlin "considers the US strategy of maximum pressure on Iran to be wrong", he said on a visit to Warsaw.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government was responding to a US demand made public a day earlier to help secure the world's busiest oil shipping lane and "combat Iranian aggression".

Government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer took a slightly softer approach, but did not did not support US President Donald Trump's plan for a maritime coalition in the stretch of water.

Ms Demmer said Germany was reluctant to join a US-led mission because the "overall approach of our policy toward Iran differs significantly from the current US approach".

Berlin wanted to focus on "diplomacy and de-escalation", she said, as it tried to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal from which President Donald Trump withdrew last year.

Ms Demmer said that although Germany shared America's goal of freedom of navigation, taking part in a US-led naval mission could “complicate this issue”.

Britain last week ordered its navy to escort UK-flagged ships in the strait in response to Iranian soldiers seizing the Stena Impero tanker in the flashpoint entrance to the Gulf.

Ms Demmer said that Germany remained "in close co-ordination with France and Britain" on maritime security, and that Berlin was considering the idea of a European naval mission.

Meanwhile, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday that the country stood with the international community in protecting security and stability in the stretch of water, through which more than a fifth of the world’s oil supply travels.

Officials from the US, UK, France and other European states are expected to meet in Bahrain on Wednesday afternoon to discuss maritime security in the region.