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Attacks on Ships in Red Sea Must Stop, White House Says

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 19, 2023

© Robert Peak / Adobe Stock

© Robert Peak / Adobe Stock

Attacks by Iran-backed Yemeni militants in the Red Sea must stop and the U.S. and its partners will continue to protect ships from being targeted, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday.

The Houthi militant group, which controls vast amounts of territory in Yemen after years of war, has since last month fired drones and missiles at international vessels sailing through the Red Sea, attacks it says respond to Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip.

"Attacks on ships in the Red Sea have to stop," Kirby told a press briefing.

Kirby was asked if Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have told the U.S. they would participate in a U.S.-led multinational operation to safeguard commerce in the Red Sea contingent on Washington backing a ceasefire in Gaza.

"I’m not going to go through diplomatic conversations and details one way or another," Kirby said. "Both countries are significant partners with the United States on a range of issues across the region. Again, they should speak to their level of participation.”

"I would let every nation who is a member, whether they wanted to acknowledge or not, speak for themselves," Kirby said.

"It's a coalition of the willing and each nation has to decide for itself whether it's going to participate and under what circumstances. We respect that. The whole idea here is protecting sovereign assets and sovereign rights and that's what we're doing," Kirby said.

(Reuters - Reporting by Nandita Bose and Jarrett Renshaw; writing by Paul Grant; Editing by Chris Reese)

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