By staff and agency

Sweden in talks with Iran, Britain to de-escalate regional tension

July 26, 2019

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday announcing it is conducting talks with Iran and Britain over a Swedish-owned, British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran to de-escalate regional tension, according to Reuters.

“Sweden is concerned by developments in the Strait of Hormuz. For Sweden and the EU it is vital that freedom of navigation is protected. Given the very serious situation in the region, it is also important that the measures taken help to ease tensions,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Sweden is conducting a dialogue at various levels with the UK, Iran and other relevant stakeholders... and we hope to find a resolution to the issues and de-escalate the tense situation.”

On July 19, Iranian forces impounded a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for involvement in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat, after the tanker ignored distress calls.

Allah-Morad Afifipour, head of the Ports and Maritime Organization in the southern Hormozgan Province, said on July 20 that the 30,000-ton Stena Impero tanker had collided with a fishing boat on its route, adding that according to law, after an accident it is necessary that the causes are investigated.

Following the collision, those on board the fishing boat contacted the British vessel but didn’t receive any response, so they informed the Hormozgan Maritime Organization according to the legal procedures, Afifpour added.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a tweet on July 20, said Iran’s conduct towards the British tanker had been fully within international maritime rules. He also compared Iran’s action with a seizure of an Iranian tanker by the UK in Gibraltar.

“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.”

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi said on Tuesday that Iran will not let disturbance in shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Iran will make any effort to maintain security in this region, especially in the Strait of Hormuz, and will not allow any disturbance in shipping in this sensitive region,” he said during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris.

On July 4, Britain captured a supertanker carrying the Iranian oil by claiming that it was transporting oil to Syria in violation of the EU sanctions.

On July 16, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the British government’s illegal seizure of the supertanker in Gibraltar, saying the act of “piracy” will not go “unanswered”.

“The evil England conducts piracy and steals our ship,” the Leader said. “They carry out an atrocity and give it a legal form.”

“The Islamic Republic and the establishment’s pious elements will not leave these enmities unanswered,” he warned.

NA/PA

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