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US Mission in Gulf Not Needed: Rouhani

LONDON – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani again tried on Wednesday to ease tensions with countries in the region, while criticizing the US plan to create an international alliance to secure trade routes in the Gulf, Asharq Al Awsat reported Saturday.
He added that Iran and other Gulf countries could protect the security of the region and that foreign forces are not needed, reported national television, which reiterated the rejection of a US maritime security mission in the region.
The countries of the region are long-time neighbors and the divisions between them will play in the hands of their enemies, he added.
Washington is pressuring international partners to join the coalition for maritime security at a time of heightened tension with Iran.
Last week, Britain joined the United States on Monday in the Gulf maritime security mission to protect ships after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker.
Traffic in the Strait of Hormuz has become the center of the confrontation between Iran and the United States after President Donald Trump renounced a 2015 nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Iran said the responsibility for securing these waters rests with Tehran and other countries in the region.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the maritime mission would be discussed during informal talks between EU defense and foreign ministers in Finland at the end of the month.
“I think that the question of a European mission will be raised again there because this discussion has not yet taken place everywhere, and I therefore think that the Finnish Presidency will play a coordinating role in this respect,” Merkel, at the end of a meeting with the Lithuanian President visiting Bucharest Gitanas Nauseda, said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would not join the US-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz and favor a European mission, but warned that it was rather difficult to progress on this point.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed earlier this week that Washington has approached 60 countries to join the mission. Defense Secretary Mark Esper visited South Korea, Japan and Australia this month to discuss the US proposal.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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