London — The UK will attempt to build a European-led force protecting free navigation in the Strait of Hormuz after last week's capture of the tanker Stena Impero by Iranian forces, Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said Monday.
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"We will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region," Hunt said in a statement to the UK's parliament. "We have had constructive discussions with a number of countries in the last 48 hours, and we will discuss later this week the best way to complement this with recent US proposals in this area."
Hunt said the force would be focused on free navigation, and not form part of the "US maximum pressure policy on Iran."
Hunt reiterated that the UK is advising against any passage of British-flagged ships in the entire Strait of Hormuz "for the moment". British-flagged ships will be asked to provide notice of any intent to pass through the strait, and the safest method may involve them travelling in convoy, he added.
Iran seized a UK-flagged chemical tanker Stena Impero and briefly detained a VLCC on Friday ratcheting up regional tensions and risks to oil shipments. The incidents have prompted the US to re-assess security for shipping in the Persian Gulf region.
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