UK to join U.S. led mission to boost shipping security in the Gulf
LONDON, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Britain is to join an international maritime security mission to protect shipping in the Gulf, the Cabinet Office in London said Monday.
The mission will see the Royal Navy working alongside the U.S. navy to assure the security of merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, a statement by the UK government said.
Events in the Gulf over the last four months, including attacks on four tankers and the allegedly illegal seizure of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, have seen the threat to commercial shipping rise, according to the statement.
The Strait of Hormuz is the busiest narrow shipping passage in the world and a vital transit zone with 20 percent of the world's oil passing through it every year.
"Following constructive discussions at an international conference in Bahrain last week, the UK has agreed to join an international mission which will largely draw on assets already in the region to increase inter-state maritime cooperation. The UK has also offered to lead one of the mission's Maritime Task Groups," said a government spokesman.
Both the UK and the U.S. are committed to working with allies and partners to encourage others to join and broaden the response to this truly international problem, the spokesman said.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "It is vital to secure the freedom for all international shipping to navigate the Strait of Hormuz without delay, given the increased threat.
"This deployment will reinforce security and provide reassurance for shipping. Our aim is to build the broadest international support to uphold freedom of navigation in the region, as protected under international law.
"Our approach to Iran hasn't changed. We remain committed to working with Iran and our international partners to de-escalate the situation and maintain the nuclear deal."
The new coordinated effort will bolster the work Britain has already being undertaking, including through HMS Duncan and HMS Montrose accompanying UK-flagged ships, said the Ministry of Defense (MOD).
"At the same time, the British government remains committed to working with Iran to reduce the current tensions and to the Iranian nuclear deal as the best means of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran."