Millennium Post

Seoul to send vessel to Strait of Hormuz after US pressure

Seoul: South Korea will send a naval destroyer and 300 troops to the Strait of Hormuz, its defence ministry said Tuesday, after pressure from its ally the US in the face of tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Iran has been blamed for a series of attacks on shipping vessels in the strait, a strategic choke point for the world's oil trade where the US has deployed a naval mission.

But the request put Seoul in a dilemma: it has had diplomatic relations with Tehran since the early 1960s and until last year Iran was one of the resource-poor South's key oil suppliers.

The defence ministry said in a statement that Seoul had decided to "temporarily expand" the deployment area of its anti-piracy military unit operating off the coast of Somalia to include the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which are linked by the Strait of Hormuz.

It would not be part of the US naval mission, it insisted -- although two liaison officers would be sent to the US headquarters for "information sharing".

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