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            december 05, 2019

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Britain, US have naval flotilla to protect ships in Strait of Hormuz


The United Kingdom joined the US in forming an naval flotilla to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz from Iran, the British government said.
Britain currently has a frigate and a destroyer in the Gulf along with four minesweepers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The UK said details of the cooperation had yet to be completed, but that it had offered to lead one of the mission's maritime task groups.
"Both the UK and US are committed to working with allies and partners to encourage others to join and broaden the response to this truly international problem," the British government said.
Britain joined the simmering crisis between Iran and the West after Iran seized a tanker flying the British flag in July. The capture came after Britain seized an Iranian tanker the British said was carrying oil illegally to Syria.
The US, meanwhile, has separately lobbied countries to join its effort to police the Middle Eastern waterway.
British naval vessels are there to protect British merchant traffic, and the British naval presence will be reduced if the Iranian threat to shipping diminishes.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied that Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz in July was a retaliation for the earlier detention of a tanker carrying Iranian oil.
"Our approach to Iran hasn't changed. We remain committed to working with Iran and our international partners to de-escalate the situation and maintain the nuclear deal," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed the importance of building closer ties to the US. Mr Raab is to travel to the US this week to meet with officials. Mr Johnson is due to meet President Trump at the end of the month. The two leaders have spoken twice by phone.

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