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Iran summons Greek envoy to protest seizure of crude cargo, calls it 'piracy'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows a view of the Iranian Foreign Ministry building in Tehran.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned the Greek chargé d'affaires to protest the seizure of an Iranian-flagged vessel and confiscation of crude cargo in the European country's territorial waters.

The head of the Mediterranean and East European affairs at the ministry summoned the Greek envoy and notified the diplomat of his country's international obligations regarding the vessel's emergency stop due to a technical glitch.

The ministry official condemned Greece’s "unacceptable" surrender to "illegal" US pressures and said the "seizure of the cargo of the ship" with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran was "an example of international piracy."

The official held the Greek government and those who confiscated the ship responsible for the illegal act.

The official also emphasized that Iran “will not give up its legal rights and expects the Greek government to live up to its international commitments in maritime and shipping sectors.”

The Greek diplomat promised to immediately convey the Iranian government’s protest to the concerned officials in his country.

Earlier on Wednesday, Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) issued a statement, describing the move as an “act of piracy” that was “in violation of international standards”.

According to reports, the vessel was seized nearly seven weeks ago in Greece on the orders of the US Department of Justice after it thought the vessel was covered by sanctions on Russian assets.

The PMO said the vessel operating under the Iranian flag had been held by the Greek government on the coasts of that country, and the cargo on board the vessel was seized upon court order and in coordination with the US government.

The vessel had faced bad weather conditions and experienced some technical problems, which led it to call for assistance, the statement added.

Under international and technical regulations and standards, the state with the nearest coastline to the vessel calling for assistance due to safety threats should cooperate by guiding the vessel to a place of safety, the Iranian maritime organization said.

The vessel can then take the required measures to resolve any technical problems and resume her international voyage once the danger has been eliminated, it hastened to add.

It further said that “no cooperation or assistance” had been provided to the vessel by Greek authorities, “while the military forces of that country have proceeded to discharge to cargo, called it an “instance of piracy.”

The PMO asked the Greek government to fulfill its international obligations and immediately release the vessel.


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