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EghtesadOnline: Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi held talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Tehran on Saturday, as tensions mount in the Persian Gulf over oil tankers.

The visit is within the framework of regular consultations on bilateral relations, regional developments and international issues, according to Iranian news agencies.

The region has been experiencing an escalation in recent months largely stemming from a protracted standoff between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. 

Tensions flared after a number of tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf were followed by Iran downing an American drone for which the United States planned a retaliatory airstrike, but called it off at the last minute, Financial Tribune reported.

The US later claimed without any evidence that it brought down at least one Iranian drone, which Tehran has denied.

Oman maintains friendly ties with both the US and Iran, and has previously acted as a go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Bin Alawi had earlier said his country was striving to ease tensions in the current Iran-US crisis. He had already visited Tehran and talked to Zarif once in May. 



Tanker Crisis 

The Saturday visit is also seen as an Omani mission to ease the recent dispute between Iran and the United Kingdom over impounded oil tankers. 

The UK seized an Iranian tanker off the British territory of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean on July 4 on the suspicion of violating sanctions on Syria. 

Iran condemned the move, saying it would have consequences and called for the immediate release of the ship. 

Last week, Iran detained a UK-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for violating maritime regulations. 

Britain, in response, has sought to assemble a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Persian Gulf. 

Iran has not officially confirmed that the seizure was in reaction to UK's impoundment of its ship. 

Oman has urged Iran to release the tanker, saying it was in contact with all concerned to ensure the safety of commercial vessels.

It also called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve differences diplomatically.

"The Sultanate [of Oman] is in contact with all parties to ensure safe passage of commercial vessels crossing the Strait [of Hormuz], while preserving its right to its own territorial waters," the Omani Foreign Ministry statement said.


Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif Persian Gulf oil tankers Yusuf Bin Alawi Oman Foreign Minister Talks Top Diplomat Tanker Tensions