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India ramps up efforts to secure release of 18 nationals onboard seized British ship

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale has met Iranian envoy Ali Chegeni as part of the government’s efforts to secure the release of 18 Indians onboard a British oil tanker seized by Iran.
Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry V Muraleedharan said the Indian Ambassador in Tehran also held a positive meeting on the issue with senior officials of Iranian foreign ministry. The 18 Indians were among 23 people onboard the British oil tanker Impero which was seized last week by Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz for what Tehran called an alleged violation of international maritime rules. “Efforts on to secure an early release of Indian crew of Stena Impero. FS (Foreign Secretary) met Iranian Ambassador in Delhi yesterday. Indian Ambassador in Tehran also had a positive meeting with senior officials of Iranian MFA,” Muraleedharan tweeted. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said the tanker was seized after it collided with a fishing boat and failed to respond to calls from the smaller craft. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt termed the seizure as “completely unacceptable” and stressed that “freedom of navigation must be maintained”. The incident came days after an Iranian oil supertanker, Grace 1, was seized off the Spanish coast earlier this month by British marines and Gibraltar police. Four of the ship’s Indian crew members were arrested by the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP). Muraleedharan said senior officials of the Indian high commission in London are expected to get consular access to the arrested Indians. “Position on VLCC Grace 1: Of the 24 Indian nationals on board four have been arrested but released on bail. Senior officials of our Mission @HCI_London expected to get consular access by this evening,” Muraleedharan said in another tweet.

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