Tehran says Britain might free Iran's oil tanker soon

Grace 1 sits anchored after it was seized earlier this month by British Royal Marines in the Strait of Gibraltar

Grace 1 sits anchored after it was seized earlier this month by British Royal Marines in the Strait of Gibraltar

In one of the most prominent incidents in the Gulf in the past month, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in what appeared to be a retaliatory move after Gibraltar seized the Iranian oil tanker.

The official reportedly said Britain is thinking of freeing the Iranian tanker and the two countries have exchanged documents to pave the way for its release.

A few days later, on July 19, Tehran impounded a British-flagged ship, Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz for failing to stop after hitting an Iranian fishing boat, a violation of global maritime rules.

Gibraltar's Supreme Court is scheduled to hold its next hearing on the vessel on Thursday, according to the official Gibraltar news service in Spain.

Iran's state-run Fars news agency tweeted a photo of the ship, called Grace 1, saying "we expect to continue operating in the worldwide waters with the Iranian flag in the very near future".

Iranian oil tanker Grace-1 was detained on July 4 in Gibraltar on the charges of violating European Union sanctions against Syria.

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Iran has seized three tankers in strategic Gulf waters since last month, including a British-flagged vessel.

On Tuesday, Gibraltar said it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention of Grace 1.

Tanker traffic through the Strait - where a fifth of the world's oil passes - has become the focus of a standoff between Iran and the United States, which has beefed up its military presence in the Gulf since May. The British Foreign Office are yet to respond to Eslami's comments concerning a potential release of Iran's oil tanker.

The developments come against the background of tension in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's key maritime chokepoints. Britain considers that action to have been illegal retaliation.

'Efforts from Iran and the port organisation have been made for the release of this ship, ' he was quoted as saying.

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