Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

The owner of a British-flagged tanker detained in Iran has met the country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Stena Impero owner met Iran’s Zarif to urge release of UK-flagged ship

  • Tanker was detained by Tehran on July 19
  • Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, met Zarif in Stockholm

LONDON: The owner of a British-flagged tanker detained in Iran has met the country’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to make the case for the ship and its crew to be released.

Erik Hanell, chief executive of Stena Bulk, met Zarif in Stockholm on Aug. 20 to ask for the Stena Impero to be released.

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READ MORE: Iran threatens ‘less secure’ shipping lanes if US halts oil exports

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It was detained by Tehran on July 19, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar. That ship was released this week.

“A constructive dialogue was had and we shared information around the case,” Hanell said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It was important for us to emphasize the importance of the release of the 23 crew ... Also for the release of the Swedish owned vessel Stena Impero.


US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

Updated 17 min 31 sec ago

US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

  • Truce announced by Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkey’s President Erdogan
  • Turkey will control strip of Syria more than 30km deep after YPG withdrawal

ANKARA: Turkey agreed on Thursday to pause its offensive in Syria for five days to let Kurdish forces withdraw from a “safe zone” Ankara had sought to capture, in a deal hailed by Washington but which Turkish leaders cast as a complete victory.
The truce was announced by US Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, and was swiftly hailed by President Donald Trump, who said it would save “millions of lives.”

 


But if implemented it would achieve all the main objectives Turkey announced when it launched the assault eight days ago: control of a strip of Syria more than 30 kilometers deep, with the Kurdish YPG militia, formerly close US allies, obliged to pull out.
“The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces,” a joint US-Turkish statement released after the talks said.
A Turkish official told Reuters Ankara got “exactly what we wanted” from the talks with the United States. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu described it as a pause, solely to allow the Kurdish fighters to withdraw.

 

Kurdish fighters would be forced to give up their heavy weapons and their positions would be destroyed, Cavusoglu said. He declined to call the agreement a “cease-fire,” saying cease-fires could be agreed only by legitimate sides, and not by the Kurds that Turkey considers terrorists.
Pence said Washington had already been in contact with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which had agreed to withdraw and were already pulling out.
Trump tweeted: “Great news out of Turkey.”
“Thank you to Erdogan,” Trump said. “Millions of lives will be saved!“
“Today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in Syria,” Pence told a news conference after more than four hours of talks at the presidential palace in Ankara.
“The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,” Pence said. “All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”
The deal struck with Erdogan also provided for Turkey not to engage in military operations in the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani, Pence said. Cavusoglu said Turkey had given no commitments about Kobani.
Pence added that he had spoken to Trump after the talks and that Trump had expressed his gratitude for the cease-fire accord. Washington’s main goal had been to halt the violence, and it had succeeded, Pence said.
The Turkish assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 200,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Daesh fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.
Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish-led fighters, Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Ankara launched its offensive on Oct. 9.
Trump had defended his move on Wednesday as “strategically brilliant.” He said he thought Pence and Erdogan would have a successful meeting, but warned of sanctions and tariffs that “will be devastating to Turkey’s economy” otherwise.