Germany has rejected US pressure to send warships to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf from seizure by Iran.
Olaf Scholz, the German vice-chancellor, publicly confirmed on Wednesday that his country would not take part in a US-led naval taskforce.
“We want to talk about how to address the situation with our French and British partners in Europe, but there is no discussion of a mission as requested,” said Mr Scholz, who is deputising for Angela Merkel while she is on holiday.
Germany reportedly rejected calls to take part in the planned taskforce last week, but this is the first time the German government has commented publicly .
Mr Scholz said a naval taskforce would be “getting ahead of events”, and that Germany’s priority was to prevent an escalation in the Gulf.
“The worst thing would be a real military conflict. Then shipping would really be in jeopardy,” he said.
Mrs Merkel’s government is believed to be reluctant to back a taskforce for fear an incident could be used by hardliners in Donald Trump’s government as a pretext for war with Iran.
Along with Britain and France, Germany has been keen to rescue the nuclear deal agreed with Iran by Barack Obama, which Mr Trump withdrew from last year.