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UK FM expresses 'extreme disappointment' to Tehran over seizure of ship

ANI  |  Europe 

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Saturday expressed "extreme disappointment" to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif during a phone call, just a day after a UK-flagged ship was seized by Tehran in the Strait of Hormuz.

"Just spoke to Iranian FM Zarif and expressed extreme disappointment that having assured me last Saturday (that) Iran wanted to deescalate the situation, they have behaved in the opposite way. This has to be about actions, not words if we are to find a way through. British shipping must and will be protected," Hunt tweeted.

The relationship between UK and Iran has been strained in the recent times, especially after British Marines along with Gibraltar authorities seized an Iranian oil tanker, Grace One, off the British Overseas Territory's coast on July 4. The ship was suspected of transporting oil to Syria, circumventing European Union sanctions.

Hunt's statement comes shortly after Zarif told the UK to not be an accessory to the USA's "economic terrorism".

"Unlike the piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, our action in the Persian Gulf is to uphold int'l maritime rules. As I said in NY, it is IRAN that guarantees the security of the Persian Gulf & the Strait of Hormuz. UK must cease being an accessory to #EconomicTerrorism of the US," Zarif tweeted.

"US #EconomicTerrorism is a global menace. I'm in Venezuela to attend #NAM meeting geared to forge a global response to unilateralism. In Iran's engagement with the world, we neither call for the ouster of leaders nor "bolster" them--decisions that are for the PEOPLE of a nation," he added.

Tehran detained the UK-flagged vessel in the Strait on the same day that Gibraltar decided to extend the detention of Grace One for 30 days, according to CNN.

Tensions in the Strait could have dire consequences as 24 per cent of the global oil production passes through the passage and it is the only route to transport oil out of the Persian Gulf.

Two ships were seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Friday -- the UK-flagged Stena Impero and a Liberian-flagged MV Mesdar.

Iranian media reported that the British vessel was captured after an accident with a fishing boat, while the IRGC said that the vessel was held for "violating international regulations."

While the Liberian-flagged ship was let off by Iran, Stena Impero has been taken to Iran's Bandar Abbas Port. Even though the ship was registered in the UK, there were no Britons on board. The 23-man crew was made up of people with Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities.

India is currently in touch with the Government of Iran to secure the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals onboard the detained UK-flagged vessel.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, July 20 2019. 21:27 IST