US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that countries around the world will join a US-led maritime force off the coast of Iran, after a South Korean newspaper reported that the Asian country plans to send a naval unit to the Strait of Hormuz.
Pompeo did not mention any countries by name in his remarks to the Economic Club of Washington, DC But last week he told Fox News that the US had asked South Korea, Britain, France and other nations to join the US initiative to protect the strategically important shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz.
(South Korea's Navy)
"We're going to keep them open. We're going to build out a maritime security plan. Countries from all across the world who have a vested interest in keeping those waterways open will participate," Pompeo said.
"It will take more time than we wish it would take, but I'm very confident that the world understands its importance, that America is prepared to be a significant part of that, but we need countries from all across the world to assist us in protecting commercial transit. We'll be successful," he added.
Washington and Tehran have seen an escalation of tensions since the US withdrew from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed sanctions on the country.
A South Korean newspaper reported Monday that the US ally has decided to dispatch its anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit from off Somalia to the Strait of Hormuz.
Seoul's defense ministry responded that nothing has been decided but that it continues to look into various options to ensure the safety of South Korean vessels.
It also said Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo received no official request for South Korea's participation during his meeting with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Seoul last week. (Yonhap)