Germany in talks with EU partners on Red Sea maritime mission

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany and its European Union partners are examining whether they could mount a new maritime mission to protect commercial vessels under threat of attack in the Red Sea, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

“We as the German government are ready for this. It is important that we as the EU are able to act as quickly as possible in view of the ongoing attacks,” the spokesperson said, adding that a decision on the matter had not yet been taken.

The Iran-backed Houthis have attacked or seized a dozen ships with missiles and drones since Nov. 19, trying to inflict an international cost for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which followed the militants’ deadly Oct. 7 rampage in the south of the country.

The United States has been spearheading a new maritime force, known as Operation Prosperity Guardian, to respond to the attacks by Yemen’s Houthis, but some allies have been reluctant.

Germany is continuing to examine the question of possible participation in the U.S.-led mission, added the spokesperson.

There have also been talks in Brussels about extending an existing EU anti-piracy mission, Atalanta, to protect Red Sea shipping, but no decision has been made, said the spokesperson.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had said on Wednesday that he was willing to consider the creation of a different mission to tackle the problem, after Spain said it opposes expanding Atalanta and would not join the U.S.-led maritime force.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray, Editing by Rachel More, Alexandra Hudson)