EghtesadOnline: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for increased cooperation between Tehran and Muscat to maintain the security of the strategic waterway shared by the two countries.
“Iran and Oman bear the main responsibility for providing the security of the Strait of Hormuz,” Rouhani said in a meeting with Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in Tehran on Sunday.
“The Islamic Republic always tries to ensure that the Sea of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz remain a safe and secure route for international shipping,” the president said amid rising tensions in the region, including attacks on oil tankers and seizure of foreign oil tankers by Iranian naval forces over violation of maritime regulations, his website reported.
According to Financial Tribune, Bin Alawi underlined Tehran’s key role in the region and said, “It is certainly impossible to bring true and lasting security to the region without the participation of Iran.”
Iran and Oman need to make every effort to help promote sustainable security and stability in the region, despite the challenges facing them, he added.
In a separate meeting with Oman’s foreign minister on Saturday, Iran's top security official had said the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian naval forces was “totally lawful”.
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said, “We believe that all countries need to respect international maritime law to help maintain security and we make no exceptions for any country in this regard.”
“Unlike Britain’s piracy in the Strait of Gibraltar, where it illegally confiscated an Iranian oil tanker, Iran’s measure [in the Persian Gulf] has been completely legal and in line with maritime regulations and security,” he said.
The senior Iranian official was referring to the UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was impounded by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps on July 19 when it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia "for failing to respect international maritime rules”.
IRGC’s measure to seize Stena Impero came two weeks after Britain’s naval forces seized Iran-owned oil tanker Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar, under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.
Reports, however, said the confiscation took place at the request of the US.
Tehran has condemned the seizure as “maritime piracy”, warning that it would not go unanswered. It has also rejected London’s claim that the ship was bound for Syria.
Bin Alawi said all countries must avoid measures that add to instability and insecurity in the region.
Earlier, the Omani foreign minister had met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
They discussed the impact of the US economic pressure campaign on Iran, as well as security in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman, according to a tweet by Zarif.