Tuesday 17 September 2019

Denmark seeks to join European allies in protecting shipping through strait

Watchful: Iran guards patrol near the British-flagged Stena Impero in the strait. Photo: Getty Images...I
Watchful: Iran guards patrol near the British-flagged Stena Impero in the strait. Photo: Getty Images...I

Stine Jacobsen

Denmark's prime minister said yesterday that the country is in talks with a number of European allies about an international naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz.

"We are looking into the possibility of a Danish naval contribution in an international European-led effort," said Mette Frederiksen.

"We are in dialogue with a number of European countries about how such an effort can be organised".

France has pushed for a European alternative after ruling out joining a US-led coalition of countries protecting oil tankers and cargo ships from threats posed by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper and his French counterpart will today discuss how France's navy could co-ordinate with Washington to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

"When it comes to the Hormuz Strait, we deem it wise, and a number of European countries do so too, that we try and create a European-led operation, which should not be regarded as an alternative to the American presence, but as a supplement," Mr Frederiksen said.

Denmark will also add about 700 soldiers, a frigate and four fighter jets to Nato forces, Defence Minister Trine Bramsen said. In addition, it will send a frigate to support a US aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean starting early next year.

The Nato country earlier this year pledged to raise its military spending to 1.5pc of its gross domestic product in 2023, up from 1.35pc planned this year.

US President Donald Trump called off a planned visit to Denmark in early September after his idea about buying Greenland, a Danish territory, was rebuffed.

In a tweet later, Mr Trump criticised Denmark for not meeting a Nato target of spending 2pc of GDP on defence.

"One thing is how much money we spend on our defence seen in isolation, and another thing is our capacity and ability to form part of the defence co-operation," Mr Frederiksen said.

Meanwhile, Mr Esper said he currently had "no plan on his desk" to seize the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Darya 1, which is at the centre of a dispute appears to have turned off its transponder in the Mediterranean west of Syria.

The vessel, formerly named Grace 1, was detained by British Royal Marine commandos off Gibraltar on July 4.

Gibraltar released the Iranian vessel on August 15.

Irish Independent

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