India, Iran discuss release of sailors

Expecting response to the note verbale that we sent on Sunday, say sources
India is in discussion with Iran to free at least 30 of its nationals who were on board two foreign-flagged ships detained by Iranian authorities. The Indian embassy in Tehran on Sunday sent an official note urging Iran to release the nationals who were seized from a British-owned oil tanker on Saturday. Diplomats confirmed that Iran held several Indians from a ship captured previously. “We are currently expecting response to our note verbale that we sent on Sunday. They have our citizens from both Stena Impero , which was detained on Saturday, and also MT Riah , which was detained last week,” said a source familiar with the negotiations. The Stena Impero was detained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard over the weekend in a tit-for-tat after British authorities detained an Iranian vessel Grace 1 near Gibraltar earlier. Initially, the whereabouts of MT Riah were not known but Indian diplomats were informed about the presence of at least 12 citizens on board the vessel. It was learned that Iran had hinted that it was considering release of nine of the Indian crew members of MT Riah . “Our embassy is in touch with the Government of Iran to secure the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals,” said Raveesh Kumar, official spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday wrote to the Minister of External Affairs, S. Jaishankar, expressing concern that at least four persons from Kerala are among Indians on the British oil tanker seized by Iran. In another letter following this, Mr. Vijayan also informed Mr. Jaishankar that a Keralite was on board the Iranian ship seized by the British. Ajmal Sadiq from Vandoor, Malappuram, had contacted his family on Saturday and had informed that his ship was seized on July 4, informed Mr. Vijayan’s letter.

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