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'UK likely to release seized Iranian tanker soon'

An Iranian official on Tuesday said that the UK was likely to soon release an Iran-owned oil tanker that it unlawfully seized last month off the coast of Gibraltar, after the two sides exchanged certain documents.
'UK likely to release seized Iranian tanker soon'

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Jalil Eslami, Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization's deputy head, said Tehran has been making efforts towards securing the release of oil tanker Grace 1, which was seized with a cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil by UK marines in the Strait of Gibraltar in July, reports Press TV.

The official said London had shown willingness to resolve the diplomatic dispute that has broken out between the two sides over the case, adding, "certain documents have been exchanged, which would help settle the issue".

"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," he said.

Britain has claimed the Iranian-owned oil tanker was seized on suspicion of violating the European Union's unilateral bans against Syria.

Tehran rejected London's claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as "maritime piracy" .

Eslami also defended Tehran's confiscation on July 19 of the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was violating international maritime rules while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

The vessel had been involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and had ignored its distress call, changing its route.

It also switched off its tracking system and used the exit lane to enter the strategic strait.

( With inputs from IANS )

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