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Germany's Scholz 'very sceptical' about U.S. mission for Strait of Hormuz

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Germany's Scholz 'very sceptical' about U.S. mission for Strait of Hormuz
FILE PHOTO: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz speaks during a news conference at the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Chantilly, near Paris, France, July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol   -   Copyright  PASCAL ROSSIGNOL(Reuters)
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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday he was very sceptical about a request by the United States to join a military mission for the Strait of Hormuz.

The United States has proposed stepping up efforts to safeguard the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, at a time of heightened tension between it and Iran. About a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the strait.

The United States had formally asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to secure the strait and to “combat Iranian aggression”, the U.S. embassy in Berlin said on Tuesday.

“I’m very sceptical about that, and I think that’s a scepticism that many others share,” Scholz told ZDF television.

Scholz said it was important to avoid a military escalation in the region and that such a mission carried the risk of being dragged into an even bigger conflict.

“That’s why I think this is not a good idea,” he said.

There is considerable opposition among Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, to getting involved in a U.S-led mission.

Asked whether the coalition parties shared the same view on the U.S. request, Scholz said: “Yes, that’s my impression.”

He said that Berlin still viewed the international nuclear agreement with Iran as the best option to prevent it developing a nuclear bomb.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Thomas Seythal, Robert Birsel)

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