Persian distilled

BERLIN

The U.S. has officially asked Germany to join an international naval force to provide safe passage for shipping around the Persian Gulf, Welt reported on Tuesday.

“We have officially asked Germany to assist, together with France and the U.K., to maintain security of the Strait of Hormuz and counter Iranian aggression,” a U.S. official was quoted as saying by the German press agency Welt.

Last week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin had yet to take a final decision on joining an international coalition to protect commercial ships in the region.

“Whether or not Germany will participate can only be decided once we have a clear idea of what such a mission would look like. Only then can the relevant political and legal questions be addressed,” he said in an interview with the Funke media group.

His remarks came after the U.K. called for a European-led maritime mission to ensure safe passage around the Persian Gulf, following Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker last week.

Tensions with Iran escalated last month after two oil tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. held Iran responsible for the attacks, an accusation denied by Tehran.

Days later, Iran shot down a U.S. drone, claiming it had violated Iran’s airspace. The U.S. said the drone had been over international waters.