• Wednesday, May 29, 2024

INDIA

Iran to allow Indian officials to meet crew of seized ship

The situation in the region is tense after Iran on Saturday launched its first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory, using drones and missiles.

Iran communicated this development during a telephonic conversation with India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Sunday. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has agreed to allow Indian authorities to meet with 17 Indian crew members of a cargo vessel that was seized by the Iranian military near the Strait of Hormuz.

This development was communicated during a telephonic conversation with India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Sunday, as per an Iranian statement.

In the conversation, Jaishankar requested the release of the Indian nationals aboard the Portuguese-flagged cargo vessel MSC Aries, which was seized on Saturday. Amir-Abdollahian responded, stating, “We are following up on the details of the seized ship and soon it will be possible for the representatives of the Indian government to meet with the crew of the said ship.”

The seizure of the MSC Aries occurs against a backdrop of escalating conflict in the region. The ship was reportedly seized due to its associations with Israel.

The situation in the region is tense after Iran on Saturday launched its first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory, using drones and missiles, in retaliation for a deadly April 1 airstrike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus. The consulate attack had resulted in the deaths of several members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard, including a high-ranking general.

The crew includes nationals from India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Russia, and Estonia, according to Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, who spoke shortly after the seizure.

Official sources in India have confirmed that the government is actively engaging with Iranian authorities to facilitate the release of the 17 Indian crew members.

On Sunday, India also expressed its concern over the increasing hostilities between Iran and Israel and called for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to diplomatic negotiations. Jaishankar held separate discussions with his counterparts in Iran and Israel, emphasizing the need for de-escalation, restraint, and a return to diplomacy.

In light of these developments, India urged its citizens last Friday to avoid traveling to both Iran and Israel due to the heightened risks.

“We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region,” India’s external affairs ministry said.

“We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy,” it said.

(PTI)

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