The South Korean government has reportedly concluded that it will send the Navy’s Cheonghae Unit on its mission in the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Hormuz to answer to a U.S. request. Instead, Seoul reportedly will not reinforce the naval unit while holding a briefing session for Middle Eastern countries near the strait.
“We have decided to send troops to the Strait of Hormuz by expanding the operational area of the Cheonghae Unit, which is already active in the Gulf of Aden,” said a senior official at the ruling Democratic Party. “We are fine-tuning the timing of an official announcement in consideration of various situations.”
In a related move, the Ministry of National Defense is said to have reported to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae that the ministry has no plan to deploy additional South Korean naval or ground troops to the Strait of Hormuz. On Tuesday, the ministry completed its preparation for expand the Cheonghae Unit’s operational area to the Strait of Hormuz when it sent the 30th batch of troops aboard the destroyer Gang Gam-chan to the unit who will serve there through February next year. The destroyer successfully executed the rescue and evacuation operation for a South Korean commercial vessel kidnapped by Somalian pirates in 2012.
It is said that Seoul decided to send its troops to the Strait of Hormuz but not deploy additional troops or dispatch ground troops in consideration of the ties with Middle Eastern countries near the area. The United Arab Emirates has a “special strategic partnership” with South Korea. In addition, Seoul is seeking for economic cooperation opportunities with Qatar and Kuwait to develop their liquefied natural gas tankers and build “smart cities” in those countries. Seoul plans to send special delegates to the Arab countries before making the troop deployment official to explain to them that the troop deployment is an “inevitable decision” to protect South Korean vessels passing the strait.
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