Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Iran to allow India to meet crew of seized cargo vessel


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New Delhi, April 15: Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has said that Tehran will “soon” allow Indian authorities to meet 17 Indian crew members of a cargo vessel that was seized by Iran’s military near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday.
Amir-Abdollahian conveyed this to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a telephonic conversation on Sunday, according to an Iranian foreign ministry readout.
It said Amir-Abdollahian also apprised details of Iran’s “legitimate defence” and punitive measures against the Israeli regime, in a reference to Tehran’s missile and drone attacks on the Jewish nation.
The Iranian foreign minister urged the Indian government to maintain its active role through international bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, to halt the war in Gaza as it is at the core of the current crisis in the region, the readout said.
In the talks, Jaishankar called for the release of the Indians onboard the Portuguese-flagged cargo vessel MSC Aries.
The Indian foreign minister expressed concern about the situation of 17 Indian crew members and sought assistance from Iran in this matter, the Iranian statement said. “We are actively monitoring the situation concerning the seized ship, and arrangements will soon be made for representatives of the Indian government to meet with the crew members of the vessel in question,” it quoted Amir-Abdollahian as saying. Special Naval Forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) seized ‘MSC Aries’ reportedly in view of its links with Israel.
The MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) said on Saturday that it is working closely with relevant authorities for the well-being of 25 crew members and the return of the vessel.
Hours after the Iranian action, White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the ship’s crew comprised of Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian nationals.
India has been in touch with Iran to secure the release of the Indians onboard the container ship MSC Aries. “Spoke to Iranian FM @Amirabdolahian this evening. Took up the release of 17 Indian crew members of MSC Aries,” Jaishankar said on ‘X’ on Sunday night.
“Discussed the current situation in the region. Stressed the importance of avoiding escalation, exercising restraint and returning to diplomacy. Agreed to remain in touch,” he said. Iran on Saturday launched its first direct attack on Israel by firing hundreds of drones and missiles in response to a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1 that killed seven Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards including two generals. In its reaction, India called for immediate de-escalation of the situation and that its embassies in the region are in close touch with the Indian community in the region. “We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region,” the Ministry of External Affairs said. (PTI)


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