UK ties Iranian tanker's release to promise on Syria

UK ties Iranian tanker's release to promise on Syria
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The United Kingdom on Saturday tied the release of an Iranian oil tanker to a guarantee it would not go to Syria.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told his Iranian counterpart that he would facilitate the release of the Grace One, which the British Royal Marines seized off the coast of Gibraltar last week.

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The tanker was captured on suspicion of planning to breach European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Iran has denied that the tanker was headed to Syria.

Hunt said he held a “constructive call” with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and reassured him “our concern was the destination, not the origin, of the oil." 

Hunt elaborated in a statement from the Foreign Office, saying: “This was about the enforcement of EU Syria sanctions: action was taken because of where the oil was going — a sanctioned Syrian entity — not because it was from Iran.”

The negotiations over the Grace One come amid escalating tensions between the UK and Iran.

Britain said Thursday that it had to fend off Iranian ships which tried to block a British tanker in the area.