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Iran says it has granted consular access to Indian crew from the seized Portuguese-flagged ship

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Dubai, Apr 27 (PTI) Iran on Saturday said the mostly Indian crew of a Portuguese-flagged ship that was seized by Iranian forces in its maritime territory two weeks ago is being granted consular access, raising hopes for their early release and extradition.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on April 13 seized the Israeli-affiliated, Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries, a container ship, manned by a crew of 25, including 17 Indians, near the Strait of Hormuz as a result of a series of attacks between Iran and Israel.

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A statement from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Portugal’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Paulo Rangel had a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian and exchanged views on the bilateral relations & the situation in the region, with the developments in Palestine standing out in their talks.

It was during this telephonic conversation that both sides exchanged their latest views on the Portuguese-flagged Israeli ship seized by Iranian forces.

“We (will) seriously consider the release of the ship’s crew as a humanitarian issue and we have announced to their ambassadors in Tehran their access to consular services, release and extradition,” Amirabdollahian said.

Ann Tessa Joseph, the sole woman cadet among the 17 Indian crew members of the MSC Aries was released on April 18 following “concerted efforts” by the Indian mission in Tehran and the Iranian government.

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Earlier on Thursday, in New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said there are certain “technicalities involved” in the return of the remaining 16 Indian crew members.

In response to a question during his weekly media briefing, Jaiswal said the 16 Indians are in “good” health and that the Indian mission was given consular access to the Indian crew by Iranian authorities.

Indian officials had met the crew and are in constant touch with their families, he said adding, “As far as their return is concerned, there are certain technicalities involved, there are some contractual obligations, once that is done, it will depend on that, when they will return.” PTI NPK AKJ

NPK

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