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British PM to hold emergency meeting on seized tanker

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will hold a meeting of Britain’s emergencies committee on Monday to discuss the seizure of the Swedish-owned Stena Impero. Earlier on Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke to his French and German counterparts over Iran’s seizure of UK-flagged oil tanker.

Later in a statement, the Foreign Secretary’s office said that both ministers agreed with the foreign secretary that safe passage for vessels through the Strait of Hormuz is a top priority for European nations, while avoiding any possible escalation.

In other development, an Iranian flag was hoisted atop the seized oil tanker docked in Iran’s Bandar Abbas port on Sunday. The British-flagged Stena Impero was seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday in apparent retaliation for the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier.

A top British representative to the United Nations has declared in a letter to the Security Council that Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker amounted to “illegal interference” and he rejected Tehran’s version of events.

Iran said the tanker had turned off its transponder after hitting an Iranian fishing boat and was detained after failing to respond to distress calls. But in a letter dated Saturday, British Chargé d’Affaires Jonathan Allen rejects each of the Iranian claims.

He called on Iran to release the tanker while diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation continue. “Our priority,” he said, “is to de-escalate.”

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