Indian officials can soon meet Indian crew onboard seized vessel: Iranian FM

EAM S Jaishankar dialed Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday to discuss West Asia situation

CORRECTION-IRAN-SHIPPING-ISRAEL-CONFLICT This image grab taken from a UGC video posted on social media on April 13, 2024 shows Iran's Revolutionary Guards rappelling down onto a container ship named, MSC Aries, near the Strait of Hormuz | AFP

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said he spoke to his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday evening, wherein he raised the release of 17 Indian crew members onboard the Israel-linked cargo ship that was seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Saturday. 

A post on X by Jaishankar said he spoke to his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. "Took up the release of 17 Indian crew members of MSC Aries. Discussed the current situation in the region. Stressed the importance of avoiding escalation, exercising restraint and returning to diplomacy," he said, adding that India and Iran have agreed to "remain in touch".

The MEA said India is closely monitoring the evolving situation in West Asia. "We are closely monitoring the evolving situation. Our Embassies in the region are in close touch with the Indian community," it said in a statement.

 Amir-Abdollahian too confirmed on X his conversation with Jaishankar. A post on the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs's website said Jaishankar expressed his concern about the situation of the 17 Indian crew members on the ship and requested assistance from the Islamic Republic in this regard. 

"Dr. Amir Abdollahian said in this regard that we are following up on the details of the seized ship and soon it will be possible for the representatives of the Indian government to meet with the crew of the said ship," the post added.

Meanwhile, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar has confirmed that the cargo vessel, MSC Aries, was heading to an Indian port when it was seized by the IRGC commandos. The ship had cleared the Strait of Hormuz when troops came in helicopters and boarded it.  

Speaking to reporters at INS Hansa at Vasco in Goa, Admiral Kumar said it was a foreign-flagged ship. "The vessel (MSC Aries) was coming out of the Strait of Hormuz and heading for one of the Indian ports. It is a vessel with a foreign flag with 17 Indians on board," the Naval chief said when queried on any update on the seized ship.

"They had cleared the Strait of Hormuz and coming south when those helicopters came with troops and boarded it. What we understood is that it is a foreign flag company. We don't have any more information," Admiral Kumar said.

He added that the Indian Navy is keeping surveillance of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, considering the fragility of the situation. "Indian Navy is operating between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden where more than 90 attacks have taken place in that region. We have been trying to help out mariners who are in that region. We are watching the situation, we have units deployed," the Naval chief said.

He added that the stand of the Bharatiya Nausena is very clear. "The Indian Ocean is our area and we will take whatever action is required to keep it safe and secured. The job of any Navy is to ensure that (passage of) merchant vessels (is safe) and trade unhindered. We are committed to doing our job," he said. 


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