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Monday , September 21 2020


Grace at anchor … US issues warrant Poland may join US mission in Hormuz

A view of the Grace 1 supertanker is seen backdropped by Gibraltar’s Rock, as it stands at anchor in the British territory of Gibraltar on Aug 15, seized last month in a British Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar. The United States moved on Thursday to halt the release of the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, detained in Gibraltar for breaching EU sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, thwarting efforts by authorities in London and the British overseas territory to defuse tensions with Tehran. (AP)

TEHRAN, Aug 17, (Agencies): Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was to visit Kuwait on Saturday for a one-day state visit, according to an Arabic newspaper.

Kuwait newspaper Al-Qabas has reported that the top Iranian diplomat Zarif was to pay a one-day visit to Kuwait Saturday. Citing informed sources, the newspaper added that Zarif will hold talks with political leaders of the country including Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, who is Kuwaiti deputy prime minister and foreign minister.

The Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Kuwait comes within few days after his visit to Qatar and holding talks with Qatari officials, including the Amir of Qatar and his Qatari counterpart.

An Iranian tanker caught in the standoff between Tehran and the West shifted position on Friday, but its anchor was still down off Gibraltar and it was unclear if it was ready to set sail soon. Gibraltar authorities could not be reached for comment.

The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marines at the western mouth of the Mediterranean on July 4 on suspicion of violating European Union sanctions by taking oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran. Gibraltar lifted the detention order on Thursday but the vessel’s fate was further complicated by the United States, which made a last-ditch legal appeal to hold it.

The Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper reported that the vessel was unlikely to sail before Sunday, citing an unnamed source who added that it was waiting for six new crew members including a captain to arrive that day. A lawyer for the Grace 1’s current captain also told the newspaper that his client had asked to be replaced.

The vessel had appeared to be moving and more smoke could be seen coming from the funnel than in recent days. However, it was not clear that the ship was actually leaving, and it still appeared to be at anchor. Refinitiv data did not show the vessel moving. Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, said earlier that the tanker was free to leave as soon as it had organised its logistics. “Could be today, could be tomorrow,” Picardo told BBC Radio. The Grace 1 had its name erased and it was no longer flying a Panama flag. On Friday afternoon a Spanish Civil Guard boat briefly stood close to the tanker with police officers taking pictures. It was closely followed by a Royal Navy boat.

Washington has attempted to detain the Grace 1 on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which it has designated a terrorist organization. A federal court in Washington on Friday issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.

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