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U.S. asks S. Korea, Japan to dispatch troops to Strait of Hormuz

U.S. asks S. Korea, Japan to dispatch troops to Strait of Hormuz

Posted July. 12, 2019 07:31,   

Updated July. 12, 2019 07:31


The Donald Trump administration of the U.S. reportedly asked South Korea and Japan to dispatch troops to form an allied forces fleet to safeguard waters in the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East, where tension has been escalating recently in the wake of Iran’s threat to close the strait. Washington has thus effectively given “bill” to Seoul and Tokyo for an Iran issue, in addition to the issue over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Asked whether Seoul received a request from Washington to dispatch troops to form a joint fleet during a regular press briefing Thursday, foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Kim In-cheol said, “We are frequently communicating with the U.S. side.” He added, “The South Korean government is also concerned about rising tension in the Middle East region, and our position is that the freedom to navigate and free trade should not be jeopardized.” The South Korean military is reportedly considering options internally after receiving Washington’s request to deploy troops.

“We are cooperating with several countries to check whether we can form a coalition that will guarantee the freedom to navigate through the Straits of Hormuz and Bab el Mandeb,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford told reporters on Tuesday (U.S. time). The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic hub, through which about one third of the world’s crude oil production and 70 percent of South Korea’s oil import pass.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun of Japan reported on Thursday that Japan, which received the U.S.’ request to dispatch troops, is expected to start legal review to deploy its Self Defense Forces to the strait.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com