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Three Warships Headed for Mediterranean, Defense Ministry Says With AM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt

October 9, 1987

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ West Germany is sending three warships to the Mediterranean to replace vessels of NATO allies that are protecting shipping lanes in the embattled Persian Gulf, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The West German task force will consist of the destroyer Moelders, the frigate Lower Saxony and the supply ship Flensburg, said Col. Winfried Dunkel.

They will participate in Oct. 14-16 maneuvers with U.S., British and Italian vessels, and continue to operate in the Mediterranean as part of the U.S.-directed NATO force there until the middle of December, he said.

Dunkel did not say whether the ships would then return to West Germany.

He said the decision to send the vessels shows ″that maintaining the free movement of ships in the gulf region is also in the interests of the Federal Republic (West Germany).″

West Germany’s constitution prohibits sending troops or warships to areas of turmoil such as the Persian Gulf, where U.S. vessels and warships of other NATO allies are protecting oil tankers from attack in the Iran-Iraq war.

In June, Chancellor Helmut Kohl promised the United States that his government would examine possible ways to compensate for the constitutional prohibition.

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