Rinkēvičs: Many diplomatic ways remain to free Latvian detained by Iran

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There are still many diplomatic means to ensure that the Latvian citizen detained during Iran's seizure of a British tanker, said Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs (New Unity) appearing on LTV July 23.

He said that freeing the Latvian citizen is possible by turning to international organizations and by diplomatic talks. It is likewise possible to free the Iranian ship, which is detained in Gibraltar for sanctions-busting, in a tit-for-tat exchange deal. 

Rinkēvičs said that while sanctions against Iran are possible, these are not being discussed on an EU level. If sanctions were introduced, they would likely come from the British side.

The Latvian Foreign Minister said he's of the opinion that resolving the complex situation is not a matter of hours or days. "The involved parties have to save face and at the same time look for solutions," he said, adding that diplomats are working on all levels but that it takes time. 

Probed about the British idea to provide escort for tankers in the Persian Gulft, Rinkēvičs was hesitant. On the one hand, he supports all the ways to promote security, barring a military confrontation. On the other hand, any additional warships at the gulf would increase the risk of a military confrontation. 

Rinkēvičs stressed that the seizure of the ship is a political act, because if just the ship crew had been detained, the individuals would be allowed to contact diplomats from their own country. But Iran has not allowed this.

The Stena Impero tanker was impounded with its 23 crew members, including a Latvian national, on board at the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it on July 19.

Iran has detained the oil tanker on allegations of failing to respond to distress calls and turning off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

There are 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino on board. 

The Latvian Foreign Ministry has submitted a note to the Iranian Embassy in Stockholm calling on Iran to release the Latvian citizen.

The Latvian national, a man born in 1978, is the chief assistant of the ship's captain. 

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