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Korea joins statement backing U.S., British strikes on Houthis

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In this photo released by the U.S. military's Central Command on Monday, U.S. and British forces, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conduct strikes on eight Houthi targets in Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen. [AFP/YONHAP]
In this photo released by the U.S. military’s Central Command on Monday, U.S. and British forces, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conduct strikes on eight Houthi targets in Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen. [YONHAP]

South Korea joined the United States, Britain, New Zealand and 20 other countries in stating support for additional strikes by the U.S. and Britain against Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Tuesday.

“Our government maintains that freedom of navigation must be guaranteed under all circumstances and is concerned about recent threats and attacks by Houthi rebels against commercial ships in the Red Sea,” the Foreign Ministry in Seoul said in a statement on Wednesday.

The White House announced on Tuesday that the 30-plus attacks that the Houthis have launched on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November “constitute a threat to all countries that rely on international maritime shipping,” adding that the countries — including South Korea — that joined the statement “condemn these attacks, and demand an end to them.”

U.S. and British forces, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted strikes against eight targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, it said.

“These strikes were designed to disrupt and degrade the capability of the Houthis to continue their attacks on global trade and innocent mariners from around the world, while avoiding escalation,” said the White House.

Korea had joined earlier statements condemning the Houthi rebels’ attacks on Dec. 19, Jan. 3, and Jan. 11, and also a UN Security Council resolution on Jan. 10.

Following naval interception by the United States and the United Kingdom of missiles and drones fired from Houthi-controlled territory into the Red Sea on Jan. 9, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that the Houthis immediately cease all attacks on merchant and commercial vessels.

The council adopted the resolution by a vote of 11 in favor to none against, with four abstentions, including from China and Russia.

BY ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]