The US has extended an invitation to a number of countries in Asia and Europe to join efforts allegedly aimed at protecting shipping in the crucial oil-exporting lane in the Strait of Hormuz. However, few countries have accepted the offer with Germany declining it and France reportedly remaining hesitant about it.

During a meeting with South Korea’s Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper requested that South Korea take part in an American maritime mission in the Strait of Hormuz, Yonhap news agency reported, citing anonymous defence officials.

The minister reportedly responded that his country was considering various alternatives with regard to the situation in the Persian Gulf since its ships are also sailing through the Strait, whose importance Seoul fully comprehends.

The Pentagon has denied making an official request for South Korea’s assistance in the planned maritime mission, but rather described it as a kind of “solicitation” that came amid discussions on bilateral cooperation between the two states, the news agency added. South Korea’s Defence Ministry hasn’t commented on Yonhap’s report.

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