July 18, 2019 / 9:28 AM / 2 months ago

British defense minister urges Iran to de-escalate Gulf tensions

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt speaks during the launch of Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt's campaign for the Conservative Party leadership, in London, Britain June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain urged Iran on Wednesday to ease tensions in the Gulf, while pledging to defend its shipping interests in the region.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, asked about a decision to send a third warship to the Gulf, said Britain had always been concerned about defending its interests in the Gulf and elsewhere.

“But it is vital that we send a very clear message to Iran that we want them to step back from this situation, that we want them to de-escalate, but we have always and we will continue to protect shipping and the free flow of goods in that area.”

Mordaunt was speaking at a defense conference about the latest naval deployment, which comes amid growing tensions with Iran after Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar earlier this month.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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