The United States has invited Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom, among others, to join an international coalition to ensure security in the Strait of Hormuz, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the wake of recent security incidents in the area.

“We are at the beginning stage of developing our maritime security initiative. We will be a part of that but so will be the nations from all across the world. We’ve asked the Brits, the French, the Germans, the Norwegians, the Japanese, the South Koreans, the Australians. I am sure I missed a few”, Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News, released late on Thursday.

The US secretary of state insisted that every country that was interested in ensuring security in the Strait of Hormuz needed to participate in the initiative to protect not only its own interests but “fundamental understanding of free and open waterways”.

Earlier this week, Pompeo said that the United States was seeking to form an international coalition to secure the Strait of Hormuz, connecting the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Moreover, the Pentagon has announced that the United States is developing an intentional maritime security framework dubbed Operation Sentinel to enhance security in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman following attacks on oil tankers there.

Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz area escalated in June when several separate attacks involving oil tankers took place in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The United States claimed that Iran was behind the incidents, while Tehran denied any wrongdoing. Tehran subsequently shot down a US surveillance drone over the coastal area of Hormozgan, prompting threats by the United States.

The situation further escalated after an Iranian vessel was seized by Gibraltar over suspicions of being involved in oil shipments to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. The move was slammed by Tehran. Madrid has said that the tanker was captured at the request of the United States.

Furthermore, last Friday, Iranian forces seized a tanker with 23 crew members onboard in the Strait of Hormuz over alleged violations of international navigation norms.

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