German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas looks on prior to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on July 31, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Germany has once again rejected a US proposal to join an American naval mission tasked with protecting vessels that pass through the Strait of Hormuz from an alleged Iranian threat.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday said his country would not join the US-led mission and that Berlin favored a European mission but warned it was rather difficult to make progress on the initiative.
“At the moment the Britons would rather join an American mission. We won’t do that,” Maas told reporters.
“We want a European mission,” he said, adding that the issue was under scrutiny but it would take time to convince the European Union to carry out such a mission.
The US Embassy in Berlin said on Tuesday that the administration of President Donald Trump had called on the German government to join France and Britain in a mission purportedly seeking to secure shipping through the strait and combat what it claimed to be “Iranian aggression.”
The Trump administration has, without providing any evidence, blamed Iran for recent mysterious attacks against oil tankers sailing through the Sea of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has vehemently denied the accusation, warning regional countries about possible “false flags” by foreign players.
The US had earlier urged Germany to reconsider rejection of its request to join France and Britain in a naval patrol in the Strait of Hormuz. Italy and Sweden have also refused to back the initiative.
Washington has lately adopted a quasi-warlike posture against Tehran, and intensified its provocative military moves in the Middle East, among them the June 20 incursion of advanced US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk into Iranian airspace over territorial waters off the coastal province of Hormozgan.
The UK has also joined the US in fueling tensions with Iran by seizing an Iranian-owned supertanker in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, in an apparent act of “maritime piracy.”
Two weeks later, a British-flagged tanker failed to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat — as is required by international law — in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) impounded the ship after its unsafe maneuver.