The United States is fully in support of South Korea's redeployment of an anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz, a US State Department spokesperson told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
On Tuesday, South Korea's Defense Ministry announced that the Cheonghae Unit, comprising of 300 military personnel, will be redeployed from the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Hormuz, off the coast of Iran, in order to protect civilian vessels.
"The United States welcomes and appreciates the ROK decision to expand the mission of its Cheonghae anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz," the State Department spokesperson said, as quoted by the agency.
While South Korea's Defense Ministry announced that the anti-piracy unit will operate independently, and not part of a US-led coalition in the area, the spokesperson suggested that the presence of South Korean troops in the region indicated the strength of the military alliance between Washington and Seoul.
On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told reporters that the potential stationing of South Korean troops in the Strait of Hormuz was unacceptable to Tehran and could lead to a souring of bilateral relations between the two countries.
The concentration of military personnel in the region comes amid rising tensions between the US and Iran after the killing of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani earlier in January.
The Strait of Hormuz is a critical chokepoint between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran through which Gulf countries export oil by sea. Approximately 170 South Korean vessels make a total of 900 journeys through the Strait of Hormuz annually, the agency reported.