European calls for Iran to release the British tanker News -

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European countries, led by Germany, France and Britain, on Saturday (July 20, 2019) called on Iranian authorities to release without delay the British oil tanker they have been holding since Friday. The German Foreign Ministry demanded in a statement Iran "to release without delay" the tanker and crew, warning of "further escalation" in the region. The German Foreign Ministry considered the Iranian move "unjustified". And considered it "undermines all ongoing efforts to find a solution to the current crisis" between the United States and Iran.

For its part, the Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement: "We call on the Iranian authorities to release as soon as possible the tanker and crew and respect the principles of freedom of navigation in the Gulf." Paris expressed "deep concern" on the issue, saying that "this action harms the necessary reduction to escalate tension in the Gulf region." "We strongly condemn this and express our full solidarity with the United Kingdom."

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday that Tehran's seizure of the oil tanker was "worrying signs" that "Iran may have chosen to take a dangerous route, a path of illegal behavior that is destabilizing." His government advised British ships to stay outside the Strait of Hormuz for a "temporary period".

"We remain deeply concerned about Iran's unacceptable actions, which are a clear challenge to the freedom of international navigation," a British government spokeswoman said in a statement issued after a night meeting of the British government's emergency committee to discuss the crisis.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has said that it seized the ship "Stina Impero" Friday after "breach of international naval bases" in the strait through which a third of the amount of oil transported by sea in the world. Iran seized the tanker off the port of Bandar Abbas in a move justified by Iranian authorities that the ship did not respond to calls for distress and extinguished the devices sent after colliding with a fishing vessel.

London, for its part, said Iran had seized two carriers in the Gulf, but the company owner of the second oil tanker "source" flying the flag of Liberia, said the ship was released after entering by gunmen for some time.

The incident came hours after a court in Gibraltar announced the extension of the detention of an Iranian oil tanker for 30 days after two weeks of seizure in an operation involving the Royal Navy, on suspicion that it was heading to Syria to deliver a load of oil in violation of US and European sanctions.

(AFP, Reuters, AFP)

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