News ID: 257796
Published: 0155 GMT August 25, 2019

Australia denies being dragged into conflict against Iran by US

Australia denies being dragged into conflict against Iran by US

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne denied her country is being dragged into a broader conflict against Iran by Donald Trump, as it joins a US-proposed mission to keep shipping lanes open in the Middle East.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would commit a warship, a surveillance plane and defense planning personnel to the US-led efforts to keep ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, reported.

Morrison said a significant amount of Australia's crude and refined oil traveled through the region, and it was in the "national interest" to join the United States, the United Kingdom and Bahrain in policing the area.

Tensions have escalated in the Persian Gulf over the past several months, especially around the standoff between Iran and the United States. A series of attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz have worsened the situation, with Washington and its allies placing the blame on Iran. Tehran has refuted all accusations.

Tension in the region also increased when the UK seized an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar, and Iran seized a British tanker in the Persian Gulf.

The US efforts to build a global coalition under the pretext of protecting ships passing through the Persian Gulf continue to bear little fruit.

Critics of the plan to protect ships have suggested the mission is being used by the United States as a proxy for further pressure on Iran, after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama last year.


Australia favors diplomacy


Senator Payne argued the two issues were "quite separate" and maintained Australia stood by the Iran nuclear deal as the best option for the region, even if the US had abandoned the pact.

"Those issues for the United States are ones for them, but we are supporting our national interests, advancing our national security, as Australians would expect their government to do," Senator Payne told the ABC's Insiders program.

"I wouldn't say we're at odds [with the US], every country makes their own decisions.

"Just because we're not making a similar decision doesn't mean we're at odds."

Senator Payne was grilled as to whether the coalition supported the United States campaign of 'maximum pressure' against Tehran, and suggested Australia favored diplomacy over the aggressive rhetoric delivered by Trump.

"We have a very good working relationship with the Iranians," she said.

"We talk to them regularly, we have an embassy in Iran, which is something that not many other countries are able to say."

Australia’s prime minister was invited to this weekend's G7 summit in the French resort town of Biarritz as an observer, as Iran was among the issues discussed at the summit.


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