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Iran not seeking ‘confrontation’ with Britain

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran says it isn’t looking for a fight with Britain amid a dispute over seized tanker ships, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on July 22 in the Nicaraguan city of Managua.

“It is very important for Boris Johnson as he enters 10 Downing Street to understand that Iran does not seek confrontation, that Iran wants normal relations based on mutual respect,” Zarif said as cited by the AFP.

He was referring to the favorite to lead Britain’s Tory party on July 23 and who would likely take over as prime minister the following day, replacing Theresa May.

British Prime Minister Theresa May chaired an emergency security meeting on July 22 on how Britain should respond to Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz three days ago.

The meeting of security ministers and officials focused on how to secure shipping of the world’s oil supply in the strategic region amid growing tensions between the West and Iran.

It came two weeks after British authorities seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar on suspicion of it breaching sanctions against Syria.

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, a rival to Johnson for the prime minister spot, told the British parliament on July 22 that he would seek to “put together a European-led maritime protection mission” for Gulf shipping.