Now to Russia’s eastern city of Vladivostok, where;
Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the leaders from India, Japan, Mongolia and Malaysia, for the fifth annual summit of the East Economic Forum. During a panel discussion among the leaders of member states, President Putin underscored his interest in de-escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf in general, and the Strait of Hormuz in particular – which has seen a series of attacks on international vessels in recent months.
Echoing the dire need for security of maritime navigation in the strategic strait, Indian Prime Minister Merandra Modi revealed that New Delhi has implemented a series of security arrangements to safeguard its own oil tankers passing through the waterway, which is situated next to major oil producing countries including Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
In related developments, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his French counterpart Florence Parly are slated to meet in Paris on Saturday, when they are also expected to discuss maritime challenges posed by Iran in the Persian Gulf, among other urgent topics. According to a U.S. defense official quoted by the London-based international news agency Reuters, Secretary Esper and Minister Parly will discuss ‘how the French navy could coordinate with the United States to ensure freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.’ The unnamed source was also cited as saying, “We recognize that France has an interest in participating in freedom of navigation, bringing freedom of navigation capabilities to the Gulf and we will be looking to find ways to harness and use that interest to better coordinate with our own initiative.”
It is important to note that while France has ruled out joining a U.S.-led international naval coalition for the protection of oil tankers and cargo ships from Iranian aggression in the strategic waterway, Paris officials have joined their counterparts in Berlin in pushing for a European alternative.