Olaf Scholz, Germany’s vice chancellor and finance minister, said on Wednesday that he was very sceptical about a request by the United States to join a military mission for the Strait of Hormuz.

Washington has proposed stepping up efforts to safeguard the passage of vessels through the stretch of water 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 US had formally asked Germany to join France and Britain in a mission to secure the strait and to “combat Iranian aggression,” the US 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.

The vice chancellor 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, junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition, to getting involved in the mission.

Asked whether the coalition parties shared the same view on the US 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.

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