BITE BACK: Hunt Tells Iran Its On 'Dangerous Path' Over Tanker Attack

Britain on Friday said Iran had seized two ships in the Gulf

Britain on Friday said Iran had seized two ships in the Gulf

Tensions in the Gulf have soared in recent weeks, with US President Donald Trump in June calling off air strikes against Iran at the last minute after Tehran downed a US drone, and blaming the country for a series of tanker attacks.

But Iran's standoff with Britain carries its own complications.

It said Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics was in touch with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt "to ensure close coordination in our attempts to make free our fellow people".

The Iranian Foreign Minister met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in NY on Thursday and discussed "the tension in the region, the UK's illegal seizure of a tanker carrying Iranian oil, and Iran's reduction of its nuclear commitments" among other issues, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Hunt said the COBR meeting was called to review what in known and what can be done to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels - a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel.

"Our priority continues to be to find a way to de-escalate the situation", he said. "But we are very clear that it must be resolved".

Britain occupies a pivotal place in a bloc of European states that have tried to broker some resolution to a broader conflict between Tehran and Washington over the fate of a 2015 deal with the world powers created to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

But Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the tanker's seizure an act of "piracy" on Tuesday and warned the United Kingdom to expect a response.

Jeremy Hunt has said the seizing of a UK-flagged tanker by Iran "raises very serious questions" about the security of British and worldwide shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

A statement from Stena Bulk said ship manager Northern Marine Management had lost contact with the crew of 23 after "unidentified small crafts and a helicopter" approached the vessel at about 4pm on Friday. "We do not seek confrontation with Iran", the letter said. "They aren't looking to go to war, but at the same time they are looking to project strength".

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