Lithuania is considering sending troops to the Strait of Hormuz to contribute to an international mission to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf.
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

The proposal was supported by the State Defense Council earlier this week, a spokesman for President Gitanas Nauseda confirmed to BNS on Friday.

"The State Defense Council approved the participation of Lithuanian troops in a maritime security operation in the Strait of Hormuz," Antanas Bubnelis told BNS.

Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis told BNS that Lithuania could deploy several military officers to the mission if the parliament gave the mandate.

"We have received a request to contribute to a mission or missions in the Strait of Hormuz," the minister said. "The US and European nations have an understanding in principle of the need to restore the maritime route conditions in the region."

"We are considering, as an option, sending several officers to command posts or similar capabilities. But we are still at the initial stage of consideration," he added.

According to Karoblis, such a proposal may be tabled to the parliament for approval during the current autumn session.

"If there were a proposal from the Defense Ministry and the Armed Forces to send troops to the Strait of Hormuz, the Seimas would have to give its mandate for this, probably as part of an overall two-year mandate that will be discussed during the current parliamentary session and will come into force on January 1, 2020.

The Strait of Hormuz is a key waterway to the open ocean from oil-rich Gulf countries.

Western nations started discussing a mission to ensure safe passage of commercial vessels after Iran detained several oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz amid mounting tensions with the US.

Some European countries are unwilling to join the US-led operation, fearing it could further escalate tensions between America and Iran.

France proposes to set up a European-led mission, but no final decision has been made yet. Britain has decided to contribute to the US-led mission.

Neither the presidential spokesman nor the minister elaborated on which mission Lithuania would give priority to.

Lithuanian troops currently participate in eleven international missions.

BNS
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