London seeks to respond to crisis with Tehran despite limited options | News -

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Britain is considering measures to be taken in the crisis of the detention of a British flag carrier in the Gulf. British Prime Minister Teresa Mae's office said it would chair a meeting of the State Emergency Response Committee on Monday (July 22, 2019) to discuss the crisis.

May will discuss the situation with members of her government and will address the issue of "maintaining the safety of navigation in the Gulf," as explained by the British Prime Minister, noting that the crisis meeting will begin at 9:30 GMT. The British government is expected to announce its next steps Monday in a speech to parliament.

But regional experts said Britain had few steps to take after the United States imposed maximum economic sanctions by banning Iranian oil exports around the world.

British connect with "allies"

A day after senior British officials described the Iranian action as "hostile," officials appeared relatively calm on Sunday and clearly said they were still studying the agreement on a response. "We are going to look at a series of options," Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood told Sky News. "We will talk to our counterparts and international allies to see what can actually be done." "Our first and most important responsibility is to ensure a solution to the issue of the current ship, to ensure the safety of other vessels flying the British flag in those waters, and then to look at the wider picture."

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt telephoned his French counterpart Jean-Yves Laudrian and German Haikou Mas on Sunday. The British Foreign Office said the three ministers "agreed … that safe passage of ships in the Strait of Hormuz is a top priority for European countries while at the same time avoiding any possible escalation in the region."

Iran's Revolutionary Guards carried out an improvised helicopter operation and seized the ship Stina Empero in the Strait of Hormuz last Friday in a apparent response to Britain's seizure of an Iranian tanker two weeks ago. The footage, obtained by Reuters from an Iranian news agency on Sunday, showed the carrier, anchored in an Iranian port, and the flag of Iran raised on it.

Iran announced on Sunday that the rapid investigation into the British oil tanker it is still holding "depends on the cooperation of its crew," after ignoring international calls for the immediate release of the ship. "The investigation (…) depends on the cooperation of the ship's crew and on our ability to access the necessary evidence to look into the case," the director-general of ports and navigation in the province of Hormuzgan (southern Iran) Murad Afifi Burr said.

He confirmed in an interview with English-language state-owned Press TV that the 23 crew members were aboard the tanker and "in good health". 18 from India, including the captain, and the other five from the Philippines, Russia and Latvia. The Latvian Foreign Ministry said the Iranian authorities had rejected requests to communicate with Latvie on board.

London has described the rise of Iranians aboard the ship as "unacceptable" to demand that Iran release the oil tanker. Ship owner Eric Hannel said she was "in international waters … when attacked by small boats and a helicopter."

(Reuters, AFP)

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