DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on tensions in the Persian Gulf (all times local):
Germany’s foreign minister is ruling out his country’s participation in a proposed U.S.-led mission to protect maritime traffic in the Persian Gulf area.
The U.S. recently asked allies to contribute to a mission to secure maritime traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, a critical oil shipping corridor, in the wake of increased Iranian aggression in the area.
Germany had already expressed skepticism, saying that priority must be given to de-escalation of tensions and diplomatic efforts.
But the dpa news agency reported on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has now ruled out participation altogether.
Dpa quoted him as telling reporters in Warsaw that “the German government will not participate in the maritime mission proposed and planned by the USA.”
Germany appears cool on a U.S. request for Berlin to take part in a mission to secure maritime traffic in the Straits of Hormuz amid tensions with Iran, saying it is continuing talks with European partners on whether to play a role.
Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says Germany and its partners have, from the start, “had a different view from the American side, and that will certainly have to be taken into account in the decision.”
She told reporters in Brussels Wednesday that Germany, Britain and France aim to uphold the agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions despite the weight of severe U.S. economic sanctions.
Kramp-Karrenbauer says “we are committed to this aim,” and in light of that the three European powers are consulting on “how we should now evaluate the request from the Americans” to boost maritime security.
The U.S. wants some NATO allies to help protect key commercial waterways as tensions soar with Iran, which recently seized a British-flagged tanker.
Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Iran have met to discuss maritime security for the first time in six years amid a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf.
An Emirati official, who was not authorized to discuss the talks and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said the meetings focused on issues related to border security and navigation in shared waters, describing the talks as “nothing new” and unrelated to current tensions.
The state-run IRAN daily reported that a seven-member delegation from Abu Dhabi met with Iranian border and coastguard commanders in Tehran on Tuesday in the first such meeting since 2013.
The UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia. The two Arab Gulf countries view Iran as a regional menace and are at war with Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen.
The UAE has long lobbied for a more hawkish U.S. policy toward Iran, but as tensions have risen in recent months, fears of a wider conflict have prompted the UAE to call for de-escalation.
— Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Iran has dismissed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s offer to visit and address the Iranian people as a “hypocritical gesture.”
Addressing Pompeo in remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said “You don’t need to come to Iran.” He suggested Pompeo instead grant visas for Iranian reporters to travel to the U.S. and interview him, accusing him of having rejected their requests.
On Monday, Pompeo tweeted: “We aren’t afraid of (Zarif) coming to America where he enjoys the right to speak freely. Are the facts of the (Khamenei) regime so bad he cannot let me do the same thing in Tehran?” he said, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “What if his people heard the truth, unfiltered, unabridged?”
U.S.-Iranian tensions have soared in recent months.