A boat of Iranian Revolutionary Guard sails next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port, July 21, 2019.
A boat of Iranian Revolutionary Guard sails next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port, July 21, 2019.

The U.S. has officially asked Germany to help secure the strategic Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran in the midst of heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

The U.S. embassy in Berlin on Tuesday asked "Germany to join France and the UK to help secure the Straits of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression."

The embassy said Germany agrees the waterway should be protected, and it posed the question "protected by whom?"

The request came one day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would help develop a maritime security plan for commercial shipping in the region. But he told the Economic Club of Washington, the plan's development "will take more than that we wish it would take."

Tensions in the strait have escalated since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and imposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports and other key industrial sectors.

Pompeo predicted the plan would be successful, but he added, "We need countries from all across the world to assist us in protecting commercial transit."

Britain recently played a key role in the rising U.S. tensions with Iran, when the British Royal Marines participated in the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of the British territory of Gibraltar. Britain maintains the Iranian tanker was suspected of violating sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

Two weeks later, Iran seized the U.K.-flagged Stena Impero and suggested it was in response to Britain's seizure of its tanker.

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