US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday condemned the “improper seizure” of two Greek-flagged ships last week by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the State Department said.
Iranian forces seized two Greek tankers in the Gulf on Friday, soon after Tehran warned it would take punitive action against Athens if the US seized Iranian oil from a tanker off the Greek coast.
“The continued harassment of ships by Iran and interference with navigational rights and freedoms threatens maritime security and the global economy,” Blinken said in the statement.
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The department said Blinken made the remarks in a telephone call with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dandias.
US and Greek diplomats called on Iran to immediately release the seized ships, their cargo and their crew. Blinken said the United States, along with its NATO ally, “stands in the face of this unfair seizure.”
Iran’s state maritime body said on Saturday that the crew of the two Greek tankers have not been detained, and are in good health and being looked after on their ships.
Greek authorities confiscated the Iranian-flagged Pega from Greece last month due to EU sanctions. The United States later confiscated Iranian oil cargo held on the ship, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Pegas and his Russian crew were later released, but the seizure raised tensions as Iran and world powers seek to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
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