South Korea's presidential office says it has reviewed the possibility of sending Korean troops to form an allied forces fleet to safeguard waters in the Strait of Hormuz with tensions mounting in the Middle East in recent months.
During the weekly session of the National Security Council on Thursday, presided over by the nation's top security chief Chung Eui-yong, the top office said its standing members have agreed to beef up Korea's cooperation with neighboring countries for progress in the Korean peace drive.
And they also discussed ways to protect Koreans and ships in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz and contribute to the international community's maritime security efforts in that region.
It's the first time in months that the South Korean government has openly mentioned the idea of sending troops to the region during an NSC meeting in July.
Speculation lingers that the possible deployment may also be directed at the ongoing negotiations between Seoul and Washington over the sharing the defense costs for American troops stationed in South Korea.
This, especially as the NSC meeting's readout also said it talked about strategy in the tough negotiations with Washington on military defense cost sharing.
The idea of sending a Korean warship to the Middle East came to light shortly after a visit by the U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton now removed from the post to Seoul in July this year with multiple sources familiar with the topic saying that Washington wishes for Seoul to send troops to the region.
The U.S. had consistently been trying to build international support for a military coalition in the seas off Iran and Yemen to which, Australia, the UK and Bahrain have already joined.
And if Seoul decides to assist the U.S.-led campaign, it is likely the 300-man strong Cheonghae Unit in the Gulf of Aden may be deployed to the coalition.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.