The Hague, Nov 29, 2019 (AFP) -
The Dutch government said Friday it was sending a navy frigate to join a "French-initiated, European mission" that will monitor Gulf waters amid regional tensions with Iran.
The Netherlands and five other countries will also join a financial channel for Iran that is immune from US sanctions, as they seek to keep a nuclear deal with Tehran alive, they said.
The Dutch ship with an onboard helicopter will be stationed in the region from the end of January to the end of June 2020 "to enhance maritime security in the Gulf region", the Dutch government said in a statement.
"It's very important to ensure a free and safe passage" through the strait, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters. "The Netherlands is happy to take part. We are not getting involved just for show, but because we want to."
The Netherlands would also send a number of staff to the headquarters of the mission, which France said earlier this week will be stationed at a French naval base in Abu Dhabi, the government said.
Since May, tensions in the Gulf have escalated following a string of attacks on oil tankers that the United States and its allies blamed on Tehran. The Islamic republic denies the charges.
Iran, however, admitted to shooting down a US drone in June for allegedly flying over its territorial waters. Washington insisted the aircraft was in international airspace.
The Netherlands also said that it, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden would join the initiative by European powers Britain, Germany and France to join the INSTEX mechanism.
Also dubbed the "special purpose vehicle", it will allow continued trade with Iran without exposing companies or countries to US sanctions.