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Red Sea security must be achieved without a new war, Italian minister says

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Yemen's Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping must be stopped without triggering a new war, the Italian defence minister said on Wednesday, as the Iranian-backed militia steps up attacks on commercial vessels.

Italian defence minister Guido Crosetto © Mena Today 

Yemen's Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping must be stopped without triggering a new war, the Italian defence minister said on Wednesday, as the Iranian-backed militia steps up attacks on commercial vessels.

U.S. and British forces shot down 21 drones and missiles fired by the Houthis on Tuesday towards international Red Sea shipping lanes, the U.S. military's Central Command said, adding it was the 26th such Houthi attack since Nov. 19.

"It is a huge problem, it is a consequence of other (war) outbreaks. I would not like to open a third front of war at this time," Guido Crosetto told Reuters, in a reference to current conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

The Houthis have vowed to continue the attacks until Israel halts the conflict in Gaza, and has said that it would strike U.S. warships if the militia group itself was attacked in Yemen.

The United States and other countries last month launched Operation Prosperity Guardian to protect civilian vessels in the one of the most important trade routes in the world.

Italy announced in December it would send a naval vessel to the area following requests for back-up from ship owners, but it has not signed up to the U.S.-led mission, with other EU allies also appearing to distance themselves from the initiative.

Crosetto said parliament would need to approve Italian naval involvement in Operation Prosperity Guardian, complicating any eventual adherence.

"There is a thing called Constitution, and there are laws for which a new international mission needs parliamentary approval, needs separate funding," Crosetto said.

"If we decide to do so (join Prosperity Guardian), it will be a decision that goes through a cabinet meeting, reaches parliament and is voted on by the (two) chambers."

Reporting by Angelo Amante

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