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Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

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TEHERAN : A Portuguese-flagged cargo ship, the MSC Aries, was seized by Iran on April 13 for “violating maritime laws”, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on April 15, adding that there was no doubt the vessel was linked to Israel.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had seized the freighter in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.

Iran’s statement comes hours after External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar spoke to his Iranian counterpart on the issue. Jaishankar said he took up the issue of 17 Indian crew members of the cargo ship with Iran counterpart H Amirabdollahian.

Earlier, government sources had confirmed that New Delhi was in touch with Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in the Iranian capital, Tehran and in New Delhi, to ensure the security, welfare and early release of the Indian nationals.

Meanwhile, in response to the escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday issued a statement expressing serious concern over the potential threat to regional peace and security. “We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region,” the MEA said in the statement.

In response to reports of the seizure of the MSC Aries, Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy and military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said it would “bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further”.

Tensions have soared across the Middle East since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

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