EU to launch a Red Sea naval mission within three weeks

Lithuanian Defense Minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles, and Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias, converse as they pose for a family photo during an informal meeting of European Defense Ministers in Brussels, Belgium, 31 January 2024. [Olivier Hoslet/EPA]

The European Union plans to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea within three weeks to help defend cargo ships against attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen that are hampering trade and driving up prices , the bloc's top diplomat said Wednesday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that he expects the bloc's foreign ministers to sign off on the mission when they meet on Feb. 19. Officials say that seven EU countries are ready to provide ships or planes. Belgium has already committed to send a frigate. Germany is expected to do the same.

The Iranian-backed Houthis have waged a persistent campaign of drone and missile attacks on commercial ships over Israel's offensive in Gaza against Hamas which began in October. However, the Yemen-based rebels have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperiling shipping in a key route for global...

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