Thursday 22 August 2019

No deal to swap seized tankers, insists Raab

Dubai

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Raf Sanchez

Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, has ruled out an exchange of seized oil tankers with Iran, insisting there can be "no quid pro quo" to end the stand-off.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, suggested he could release the British-flagged Stena Impero if the UK released the Grace 1, an Iranian tanker held off Gibraltar.

The UK maintains the Grace 1 was seized legally for violating EU oil sanctions on Syria, while the Iranian seizure of the Stena Impero was an illegal act of "state piracy".

"There is no quid pro quo. Grace 1 was intercepted because it was in breach of sanctions and heading with oil to Syria," Mr Raab said. "The Stena Impero was unlawfully detained, so this isn't about some kind of barter. This is about international law."

Hours later, the Iranian ambassador in London denied the offer of an exchange was ever on the table. "Impossible to advance a quid pro quo or barter exchange of detained UK and Iranian ships as some British media suggest," said Hamid Baeidinejad.

"The UK has illegally detained the ship carrying Iranian oil. The British ship is detained for violating key safety/security regulations."

Iran has accused Britain of seizing its tanker at the behest of the US, which is trying to choke off all Iranian oil exports. The UK denies the allegation.

Mr Raab also urged allies to avoid an "EU versus US tussle" over naval missions in the Gulf. While Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, proposed a European naval operation, Mr Raab has said any EU initiative will need American support to be viable. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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