Iran calls on Britain to immediately release its seized supertanker

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Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, gives a press conference in the capital Tehran. (AFP)
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A handout picture released by the Ministry of Defence shows a night vision image of British Royal Marines taking part in the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker, Grace 1 in the early hours of July 4, 2019 off the Gibraltar strait. (Handout/MOD/CROWN COPYRIGHT 2019/AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

Iran calls on Britain to immediately release its seized supertanker

  • Iran has warned of reciprocal measures if the tanker is not released by Britain
  • British Royal Marines seized an Iranian oil tanker last week on suspicion that it was breaking European sanctions

DUBAI:: Iran called on Britain on Friday to immediately release its oil tanker which British Royal Marines seized last week on suspicion that it was breaking European sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a foreign ministry spokesman told state news agency IRNA.
“This is a dangerous game and has consequences ... the legal pretexts for the capture are not valid ... the release of the tanker is in all countries’ interest,” the spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, said.
Iran has warned of reciprocal measures if the tanker is not released by Britain.
Britain said on Thursday that three Iranian vessels tried to block a British-owned tanker passing through the Strait of Hormuz, which controls the flow of Middle East oil to the world, but backed off when confronted by a Royal Navy warship. Iran denied that its vessels had done any such thing.
Tension between Iran and the West has increased a week after Britain seized the tanker and London said the British Heritage, operated by oil company BP, had been approached in the strait between Iran and the Arabian peninsula.
Britain is among European parties to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald trump pulled out of last year and reimposed and toughened sanctions on Tehran.
“Foreign powers should leave the region because Iran and other regional countries are capable of securing the regional security,” Mousavi said.


UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

Updated 23 October 2020

UN says Libyan sides sign countrywide cease-fire deal

  • Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east
  • Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves

GENEVA: The United Nations said Friday that the two sides in Libyan military talks had reached a “historic achievement” with a permanent cease-fire agreement across the war-torn North African country.
After mediation this week led by UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Turco Williams, the 5+5 Joint Military Commission reached what the UN called an “important turning point toward peace and stability in Libya.”
Details were not immediately available, but the two sides were taking part in a signing ceremony in Geneva on Friday morning.
Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers. The country was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
“The road to a permanent cease-fire deal was often long and difficult,” Williams, a former US State Department official, said in Arabic at the signing ceremony.
“Before us is a lot of work in the coming days and weeks in order to implement the commitments of the agreement,” she said. “It is essential to continue work as quickly as possible in order to alleviate the many problems due to this conflict facing the Libyan people.”
“We have to give people hope of a better future,” Williams added. She expressed hope the agreement will succeed “in ending the suffering of Libyans and allowing those displaced by the conflict to return to their homes.”
Ali Abushahma, the head of the delegation and a field commander for the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, said: “We have had enough suffering, enough bloodshed ... We hope we will change the suffering on all the territories of Libya, especially in the south.”
“I appeal to all Libya: Be one hand,” he said, warning about polarization by factions.
The meetings this week mark the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under Williams’ watch. The Geneva-based military talks come ahead of a political forum in Tunisia in November. That forum aims to “generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections,” the UN mission said.
On Wednesday, Williams had said the two warring factions agreed on issues that “directly impact the lives and welfare of the Libyan people,” citing agreements to open air and land routes in the country, to work to ease inflammatory rhetoric in Libyan media, and to help kickstart Libya’s vital oil industry.
Libya’s prized light crude has long featured in the country’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Last month, the two sides reached preliminary agreements to exchange prisoners and open up air and land transit across the country’s divided territory. This breakthrough also accompanied the resumption of oil production after a months-long blockade by powerful tribes allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the eastern-based forces.
Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli, the seat of the UN-supported government in the west. But his campaign collapsed in June.
Fighting has since died down amid international pressure on both sides to avert an attack on the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s major oil export terminals.