"Technologically, or capability-wise, in order for it to be successful, there will have to be coordination among our navies in the region. And we will be looking into what we can do to better coordinate and bring our militaries together in a way that multiplies the capabilities in the region recognizing that, again, the capability that France has is significant ... and they can play a leadership role, but I think that there will need to be ... coordination with the United States' capabilities in the region," the official told reporters.
"We see this as distinct from and separate in approach from our state department led pressure campaign against Iran. This is really about ensuring maritime security and freedom of navigation on which all of our economies depend, and that is probably the main message that we are bringing to our counterparts in France in discussing this initiative," the official pointed out.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper travelled to Stuttgart and London earlier this week.
In July, the US suggested creating an international maritime coalition to "ensure the freedom of navigation" in the area. The coalition has been joined only by the UK and Australia by now. Tensions between Iran and the US escalated last year following President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw his country from the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA) and reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran. Later, Iran partially suspended its obligations under the deal and started to enrich uranium beyond the level outlined by the agreement.
The US sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf in what it described as a "clear message" to Tehran following Iran's suspension of some of the deal's obligations. Later, incidents involving the detention of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman added fuel to the fire, prompting Washington to blame Tehran for attacking the tankers. Iran denied the allegations, saying the US is looking for a pretext to stir up tensions in the region.