Minister says Iran tanker too big to dock at Greek port

The Greek junior foreign minister said it was a very large crude carrier that won’t fit in the port. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Minister says Iran tanker too big to dock at Greek port

  • Greek finance minister says that at 130,000 tons the tanker is too big for any Greek port
  • It is thought the tanker will reach Kalamata by Monday, but will not be allowed in

ATHENS: An Iranian tanker that has sparked a diplomatic row pitting Tehran against Washington and London is too big to dock in Greece, the country’s junior foreign minister said Wednesday.
“This is a very large crude carrier, it is over 130,000 tons... It cannot access any Greek dock,” junior foreign minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told Ant1 TV.
Varvitsiotis said the Greek government had “faced pressure” by US authorities over the vessel but insisted that Athens “has sent a clear message that we would not wish to facilitate the transport of this oil to Syria under any circumstances.”
Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, seized the tanker on July 4 on suspicion it was transporting oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions, triggering a sharp deterioration in relations between Tehran and London. Iran has repeatedly denied any violations.
Varvitsiotis said Athens was not in contact with Tehran over the tanker, which was originally called Grace 1 but has been renamed the Adrian Darya, and had received no request from Iran.
The website Marine Traffic, which earlier this week gave the ship’s reported destination as the Greek port of Kalamata, had placed the supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of oil some 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of the Algerian port of Oran.
The maritime tracker says the tanker is expected to arrive in Kalamata on Monday, but Varvitsiotis suggested it may not dock in Greek waters at all.
“It has named Kalamata as its port of destination but this doesn’t mean anything,” adding: “It could drop anchor somewhere” else.
Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ordered the tanker released last Thursday, with Iranian officials saying a new crew had arrived to pilot the vessel.


South Sudan opposition leader returns to meet with president

Updated 19 October 2019

South Sudan opposition leader returns to meet with president

  • Riek Machar last met face-to-face with President Salva Kiir in September, when they discussed outstanding issues in a fragile peace deal
  • The civil war killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions

JUBA, South Sudan: South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar returned to the country Saturday to meet with President Salva Kiir less than a month before their deadline to form a unity government after a five-year civil war.
Machar last met face-to-face with Kiir in September, when they discussed outstanding issues in a fragile peace deal. His two-day visit includes a meeting with the US ambassador to the United Nations, who arrives Sunday with a UN Security Council delegation.
The delegation is expected to encourage progress in the peace deal signed a year ago but fraught with delays.
Both Kiir and Machar will meet with the delegation Sunday, government spokesman Michael Makuei said.
The opposition has said Machar won’t return to South Sudan for good to form the government by the Nov. 12 deadline unless security arrangements are in place.
The US has said it will reevaluate its relationship with South Sudan if that deadline is missed.
The civil war killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions.
Before Machar’s return a unified army of 41,500 opposition and government soldiers needs to be ready along with a 3,000-person VIP protection force.
But so far there are only 1,000 unified soldiers and security arrangements won’t meet the deadline, deputy opposition spokesman Manawa Peter Gatkuoth said.
The previous Machar-Kiir meeting focused on speeding up the screening and reunification of forces, but parties left the talks with differing views.
Deputy chairman for the opposition Henry Odwar called the meeting “lukewarm,” while Makuei called it “highly successful” and said everything was on track for next month’s deadline.