Published: Thu, July 25, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Britain to create European maritime mission to counter Iran's 'piracy'

Britain to create European maritime mission to counter Iran's 'piracy'

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (gave) reassurances to the Iraqi delegation. around guaranteeing freedom of navigation in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz and respect for worldwide law guaranteeing that", Reuters quoted Iraq's oil ministry statement as saying.

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told CBS News' David Martin on Tuesday, in an interview aboard the USS Boxer amphibious assault ship, that the vessel took "decisive action" against two Iranian drones.

Britain this week announced plans to develop and deploy a Europe-led "maritime protection mission" to safeguard shipping in the area.

It would seek to "complement" United States proposals to protect shipping in the region, although it would not form part of the American "maximum pressure" policy on Tehran as the UK continued to support the Iran nuclear deal which the U.S. has repudiated.

He further challenged the United States to provide evidence of shooting down the drone, saying nobody would believe a claim without proof.

"Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure that we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at this wider picture of actually having a working proper professional relationship with Iran", said UK Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood.

Tensions in the Gulf region are high, with fears of a military confrontation between the USA and IRan.

Some two weeks later, Iran seized the British-flagged Stena Impero in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, claiming that it had collided with a fishing ship and violated worldwide law.

Rouhani also said Iran would be open to talks should there be a "ceasefire" in United States economic sanctions against the Islamic republic.

He said: "I congratulate my former counterpart, Boris Johnson on becoming UK Prime Minister".

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi is visiting Paris to convey Rouhani's message to Macron, the conservative Iranian website Alef quoted "an informed source" as saying.

"Sweden is concerned by developments in the Strait of Hormuz".

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran's pragmatist president, Hassan Rouhani, who has drawn fire from hardline clerical leaders for reaching the nuclear pact with world powers in 2015, said Iran was ready for "just negotiations" but not if they mean surrender.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi also reacted to the USA claim, saying, "We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else".

Data from the tracking site Marine Traffic showed the commercial ship arrived at a port in Qatar early on Wednesday after transiting the strait.

Maritime publication Lloyd's List said the British warship HMS Montrose shadowed the BW Elm on Wednesday, but did not provide a direct escort.

"It was the first time that he [Rouhani] seemed to link the seizure of a ship by the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) less than a week ago to the seizing in Gibraltar of the Iranian oil tanker", said Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran.

Addressing the Commons after a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee, Mr Hunt said he spoke with a "heavy heart" but if Iran continued to act as it had, it would have to accept a "larger Western military presence" along its coastline.

'I guess the same policies that failed in the USA will fail in the United Kingdom'.

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