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July 20, 2019

Gibraltar chief meets Iranian officials in bid to defuse tanker row

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P
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July 20, 2019

LONDON: The head of Gibraltar’s government has met privately with Iranian officials in a bid to defuse tensions surrounding the seizure of an Iranian supertanker near the British overseas territory.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told parliament on Friday that the meeting earlier this week “was both constructive and positive”.Picardo said he wants to “de-escalate” the situation after the interception of the Panama-flagged tanker off the southern tip of Spain on July 4. The tanker is suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, and its seizure stoked international tensions over the Persian Gulf.

Picardo said he met Iranian officials at the Foreign Office in London on Wednesday. He said he told them that due process of law must be followed and that the case is before Gibraltar’s Supreme Court.

Gibraltar government’s later said the Supreme Court has extended for 30 days the detention of the supertanker. The government said the court has set August 15 as the date for a new hearing on the Panama-flagged Grace 1. British Royal Marines boarded the ship on July 4 and Gibraltar police have arrested the vessel’s captain, chief officer and two second mates as part of their investigation. All are Indian.

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