Iran Grants Consular Access to Indian Crew on Seized Ship

In a recent development, Iran has granted consular access to the mostly Indian crew of a Portuguese-flagged ship seized by Iranian forces, paving the way for their potential release and extradition. The crew, including 17 Indians, was onboard the MSC Aries, a container ship, when it was seized near the Strait of Hormuz amidst escalating tensions between Iran and Israel.

The Seizure and Diplomatic Efforts

The Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard captured the Israeli-affiliated vessel on April 13, leading to a diplomatic standoff. Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that Portugal’s Foreign Minister, Paulo Rangel, engaged in discussions with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, focusing on bilateral relations and regional developments, particularly in Palestine.

During the dialogue, the parties addressed the situation surrounding the Portuguese-flagged ship and emphasized the humanitarian aspect of potentially releasing the crew. Amirabdollahian expressed the intent to grant consular services, release, and extradite the crew, underscoring the importance of the issue.

The Release of Ann Tessa Joseph

Amidst these discussions, Ann Tessa Joseph, the only female cadet among the Indian crew members, was released on April 18 following collaborative efforts between the Indian mission in Tehran and the Iranian authorities. This step highlighted the ongoing diplomatic initiatives to ensure the crew’s well-being and safe return.

Technicalities and Consular Access

Meanwhile, the remaining 16 Indian crew members are awaiting repatriation, with the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Randhir Jaiswal, addressing the complexities involved in their return. Jaiswal confirmed that the crew members are in good health and have received consular access from the Indian mission in Tehran, maintaining regular communication with their families.

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He emphasized that the crew’s return is subject to contractual obligations and technical considerations. Once these aspects are resolved, the timeline for their repatriation will be determined accordingly, reflecting the meticulous approach in facilitating their safe homecoming.

Optimism for a Resolution

With Iran granting consular access to the crew and expressing a commitment to address the situation with a humanitarian perspective, there is optimism for a positive resolution to the ordeal faced by the Indian crew members of the MSC Aries. The collaborative efforts between diplomatic entities and the emphasis on international norms and protocols underscore the importance of ensuring the crew’s well-being and facilitating their return.