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Tehran 'studying' U.S. letter on Strait of Hormuz

RIA Novosti

13:52 16/01/2012 MOSCOW, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - Iran has received and is studying a letter from the U.S. on a potential dispute over the Strait of Hormuz, the key waterway that Tehran has threatened to close in response to sanctions, Iran’s Fars News Agency said on Monday, citing a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tehran was studying the letter and “would respond to it if necessary.” He also said that the U.S. letter was received through three different channels.

“The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice had handed a letter to Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazayee; the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran [Livia Leu Agosti] also conveyed the same thing; and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani delivered the same message to Iranian officials,” he said. However, he did not give any details about the letter’s contents.

Tensions between Iran and the West have escalated in the past few weeks after Tehran threatened to stop oil supplies passing through the Strait of Hormuz if economic sanctions imposed by Western nations limit or prevent Iranian oil exports.

Hormuz is the main route used by tankers carrying crude oil from the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Iran that any attempt to carry out its threat would draw an immediate U.S. military response.

U.S., other Western powers and Israel suspect Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies this, saying its program is civilian in nature.

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