Seoul, 21 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – South Korea plans use its anti-piracy naval forces off the coast of East Africa to protect shipping and guarantee freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, Seoul’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.
The US called on its allies to take part in a naval mission it is leading in the waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula – a key transit area for regional and international trade. Nearly one-third of the world’s oil exports are shipped through the Strait of Hormuz.
South Korea said its vessels would not officially be affiliated with the US mission but would collaborate with the coalition if necessary.
The Strait of Hormuz became a flashpoint of regional tensions last year following multiple attacks on oil tankers that the United States blamed on Iran.
Hostility between the two countries escalated earlier this month following the targeted killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad and Iran’s retaliatory strikes on Iraq bases used by US forces.