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US asked partner nations to join military coalition for Strait of Hormuz: envoy

The United States asked its partner nations last week, including South Korea, to join a US-led military coalition to protect strategically vital waters off Iran, Seoul's top envoy to Washington said Wednesday.

In a briefing with reporters, South Korean Ambassador to the US Cho Yoon-je said the request was made Friday during a State Department-hosted briefing with the Washington-based diplomatic corps.

"The US explained its plan for ensuring the safety of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, and delivered its wish for participating nations to join the plan," Cho said, adding that it was a "general" request.

South Korean Ambassador to the US Cho Yoon-je (Yonhap)
South Korean Ambassador to the US Cho Yoon-je (Yonhap)

His remarks come amid speculation that Washington may request the deployment of South Korean troops to the Strait of Hormuz.

The US initiative comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

"Our government is reviewing various measures," the ambassador said, adding that South Korea has had deep concerns about the escalating tension in the Middle East and believes it should not threaten freedom of navigation and trade.

The briefing was attended by some 100 representatives from about 60 nations, including a minister and a counselor from the South Korean Embassy.

Earlier Wednesday, Chung Eui-yong, chief of South Korea's presidential National Security Office, held talks with US.

National Security Adviser John Bolton in Seoul and agreed to continue consultations on ways to cooperate for maritime safety and freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, the South's presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, said. (Yonhap)