UAE stands with initiatives that secure stability in Strait of Hormuz, Dr Anwar Gargash says

Meeting between world powers in Bahrain aims to protect maritime traffic from Iranian threat

epa07748603 A handout photo made available by the US Navy shows Capt. Putnam H. Browne, commanding officer of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), speaking during a change of command ceremony on the flight deck, in the Arabian Sea, 29 July 2019 (issued 30 July 2019). Capt. Walter M. Slaughter relieved Browne as Abraham Lincoln's commanding officer.  EPA/US NAVY/MC2 JESSICA PAULAUSKAS HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

The UAE stands with the international community in preserving the security and stability of the Strait of Hormuz, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday.

Representatives 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.

The countries are to discuss forming a security force to protect maritime traffic through the vital Strait of Hormuz after several attacks on tankers, which were blamed on Iran.

The initiative comes two weeks after Tehran seized a British-flagged oil tanker, the Stena Impero.

UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash attends an extraordinary meeting for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Foreign Ministers level in Jeddah on July 17, 2019.  / AFP / Amer HILABI

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been holding the tanker and 23 crew since July 19. The move came after UK forces seized an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar on suspicion of breaching sanctions against Syria.

“The international initiative on the security of the Strait of Hormuz is an explicit signal of the international community’s [commitment] towards ensuring the safety of navigation and energy of our region to the world,” Dr Gargash wrote on Twitter.

“We stand with initiatives that preserve the security of the region and ones that avoid the possibility of confrontation.”

British officials said they were not expecting an immediate outcome from Wednesday’s meeting, but the proposals would be taken back to governments for further discussion.

“We are aware that stability is only implemented through the tools of diplomacy, the respect for sovereignty and non-interference,” Dr Gargash said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the plan for a maritime security force would take time but he was confident “countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways open will participate".

“It will take more time than we wish it would take, but I’m very confident that the world understands its importance," Mr Pompeo said.

"America is prepared to be a significant part of that but we need countries from all across the world to assist us in protecting commercial transit."

Several EU member states have expressed interest in forming a mission to ensure the safe transport of cargo but Germany has all but ruled out a naval contribution.

An EU mission would probably be separate to the US plan, although American officials said it would be complementary.

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