By staff and agency

UN chief calls for ‘maximum restraint’ in Persian Gulf region

August 2, 2019

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for “maximum restraint” to prevent further escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

According to Xinhua, Guterres said on Thursday that he has “consistently conveyed a clear message to leaders both publicly and privately in numerous meetings and calls” and “that message can be boiled down to two words: maximum restraint.”

“I once again urge all parties to refrain from any actions that will escalate tensions further,” he added.

He noted, “A minor miscalculation could lead to a major confrontation. The last thing the world needs is a major confrontation in the [Persian] Gulf that will have devastating implications on global security and the global economy.”

Tensions in the Persian Gulf have been on the rise in the past several months.

On 4 July, Royal Marines were involved in the seizure of Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar, claiming that ship was carrying oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions. Iran called it an act of “piracy”.

Days later, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps seized British-flagged Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz.

In an interview with Sky news on Tuesday, Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad said the release of the seized Iranian tanker could help secure the freedom of the British-flagged vessel detained by Tehran.

“Of course one issue can help resolution of another issue but these are two separate issues that need to be tackled separately,” he said.

He also said, “We’re very keen to see the UK is doing all the measures necessary to release as soon as possible the Grace 1.”

Baeidinejad said, “That ship collided with a fishing boat in the area...the fishing boat was damaged and there have been injuries.”

He also said Stena Impero had “entered the Strait of Hormuz from the exit lane, which is against the law”.

The ambassador added, “We have tension in the region because of the U.S. policies - that ship should have been very careful not to violate any laws.”

Baeidinejad denied Grace 1 was heading for Syria but repeatedly declined to identify the ship’s destination.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said Iran cannot reveal the destination of the tanker because of the U.S. sanctions.

In remarks on July 23, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said 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.

NA/PA

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