Germany weighs joining US-led coalition in Gulf

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN (AA) – Germany has signaled on Wednesday that it might join a US-led military coalition to provide safe passage for shipping around the Persian Gulf and Yemen.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference in Berlin that talks were still underway.

“The discussions are continuing, and Germany would of course take part in these discussions. But I cannot tell you anything on that at the moment, as these have not yet been completed,” she said.

The U.S. announced plans on Tuesday to create an international military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran and Yemen, following attacks on two tankers in June.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that within the next couple of weeks Washington would identify which nations have "a political will" to support this initiative.

He said escorts should be provided by coalition member countries flying the same flag as the ship needing protection, while U.S. would provide "the main awareness and intelligence surveillance" for coordination during patrols and between ships.

In June, tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalated after two oil tankers were attacked at the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. held Iran responsible for the attacks and also accused them of destroying navigation devices in waters, both accusations denied by Iran.

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