Tehran 'Welcomes' U.S. Navy Rescue Of Iranian Fishermen
January 07, 2012
Iran has broken its official silence over the U.S. Navy's rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen from the hands of pirates by calling the January 5 operation a "welcome and humanitarian act."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Iran's Arabic-language broadcaster, Al-Alam, that "all nations should display such behavior."
"We consider the actions of the U.S. forces in saving the lives of the Iranian seamen to be a humanitarian and positive act and we welcome such behavior," Mehmanparast was quoted as saying.
The U.S. Navy said it had provided food, water, and medical assistance to the shaken sailors before returning them to their refueled dhow and taking the suspected Somalian pirates into custody for possible prosecution.
The Iranians are thought to have spent around a month and a half in captivity after the pirates stormed their Iranian-flagged vessel in the northern Arabian Sea.
The Navy said it acted on the basis of a distress call.
U.S. officials noted that the seamen were aided by a destroyer from the same Fifth Fleet carrier group that got a stern warning from a senior Iranian official just days earlier.
Western and Iranian officials have verbally jousted over recent threats that Tehran would try to shut down oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz if governments went ahead with proposed oil sanctions on Iran.
European Union foreign ministers are expected to debate such a ban on January 30.
based on agency and media reports
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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