Iran, UK making progress toward release of Grace 1

TEHRAN, Aug. 14 (MNA) – Iran and the UK are making progress toward the release of an Iranian tanker impounded in Gibraltar, according to people familiar with the talks.

The move that could defuse tensions between the two countries, Wall Street Journal reported.

People familiar with the seizure of the Iranian tanker in Gibraltar said progress was made after the vessel received a new flag and a new destination in Morocco and then, more vaguely, to somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Iran has also exchanged certain documents that would help the UK release the tanker.

Gibraltar said on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising over the Iranian-owned oil tanker that was unlawfully seized last month off its coasts.

We continue to seek to de-escalate issues arising since the detention of Grace 1, a spokesman for Gibraltar was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The current detention order on the vessel expires on Saturday night, the spokesman he added.

Relations between Iran and the UK soared after an Iran-operated oil tanker, Grace 1, was illegally detained by British Royal Marines in Gibraltar on July 4, on accusations that the tanker was carrying oil to Syria in possible violation of the European Union’s sanctions on the Arab country.

Iran condemned the move as “piracy” and called for the immediate release of the tanker, stressing that the tanker was not headed to Syria.

A few days later, on July 19, Tehran impounded a British-flagged ship, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz for failing to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of international maritime rules.

Regarding the latest developments over Grace 1, Deputy Head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization Jalil Eslami said earlier today that Iran and UK had exchanged certain documents to pave the way for the supertanker’s release

He noted that Britain is expected to soon free the tanker, saying, “We hope that the problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue sailing with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

MNA/PR

News Code 148893

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