Merkel: European ministers to discuss Strait of Hormuz naval mission

Helicopters aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz. The US has called for a coalition to protect shipping in the region. (US Navy via Reuters)
Updated 14 August 2019

Merkel: European ministers to discuss Strait of Hormuz naval mission

  • Britain last week joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf
  • EU foreign ministers and defense ministers are due to hold informal meetings in Helsinki in late August

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she believed the idea of a European naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz would be discussed again at informal meetings of European foreign and defense ministers in Finland later this month.
“I think the question of a European mission will be discussed there again because this discussion has not yet taken place everywhere and so I believe that the Finnish presidency will play a coordinating role on that,” Merkel told a news conference after meeting visiting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.
EU foreign ministers and defense ministers are due to hold informal meetings in Helsinki in late August. Finland took over the EU’s rotating presidency on July 1.
Britain last week joined the United States in a maritime security mission in the Gulf to protect merchant vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel. Two weeks beforehand, Britain had called for a European-led naval mission.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that Germany will not join a US-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz and that it favors a European mission but he has also warned it was rather difficult to make progress on that.


Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

An Iranian army soldier walks through a temporary hospital in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 30 March 2020

Iran warns of lengthy ‘new way of life’ as virus deaths rise

  • Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible”

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani has warned that “the new way of life” in Iran was likely to be prolonged, as its declared death toll from the novel coronavirus rose to 2,640.
Iran is one of the countries worst-hit by the virus, which first originated in China.
Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January.
At his daily news briefing, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 123 more people in Iran had died from the virus in the past 24 hours.
He reported 2,901 new cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the overall number of officially confirmed cases to 38,309.
According to the official, 12,391 of those hospitalized have recovered and 3,467 are in “critical” condition.
“We must prepare to live with this virus until a treatment or vaccine is discovered, which has not yet happened to date,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting.
“The new way of life we have adopted” is to everyone’s benefit, he said, adding that “these changes will likely have to stay in place for some time.”
After weeks of refraining from imposing lockdown or quarantine measures, Tehran decided Wednesday to ban all intercity travel until at least April 8.
Without an official lockdown in place, the government has repeatedly urged Iranians to stay home “as much as possible.” Schools and universities in some provinces were closed in late February and the measure was later extended to the whole country.
After Rouhani’s warning, the reopening of schools following this year’s new year holidays of March 19 to April 3 appears unlikely.

FASTFACT

Iran announced its first infection cases on Feb. 19, but a senior health official has acknowledged that the virus was likely to have already reached Iran in January

On a positive note, Rouhani said he had been told by top health experts and doctors that “in some provinces we have passed the peak (of the epidemic) and are on a downward trajectory.”
Several Iranian government officials and notable figures have been infected by the new coronavirus, some of whom have died.
The most recent case of infection was Mohammed-Reza Khatami, brother of former president Mohammad Khatami and an ex-deputy speaker of parliament.
He is currently hospitalized.
Iraj Harirchi, a deputy health minister who tested positive for the virus in late February, has returned to public life and appeared on state television to emphasize safety precautions.