Iran’s president has signalled a deal could be possible regarding the British-flagged tanker seized in the Strait of Hormuz.
President Hassan Rouhani suggested on Wednesday that the Stena Impero vessel could be released if the UK takes similar steps to hand back an Iranian oil tanker seized by the Royal Navy off Gibraltar earlier this month.
The remarks could help reduce tensions between the two countries as Boris Johnson takes over as Prime Minister.
“We do not seek the continuation of tension with some European countries,” Mr Rouhani said in comments carried on his website.
“Should they be committed to international frameworks and give up their wrong actions, including what they did in Gibraltar, they will receive a proportional response from Iran.”
Mr Rouhani described the Iranian seizure of the UK-flagged Stena Impero as “professional and brave”.
The comments came after the tanker’s owners said the crew are safe following communications with them in Iran.
The vessel was taken by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Friday amid worsening relations between Tehran and the West.
Stena Bulk confirmed it has had direct contact with the crew of the impounded vessel.
The ship’s master said they were all safe and there had been good cooperation with the Iranian personnel on board.
Stena Bulk said the crew’s family members were being kept updated on the latest developments and being offered the firm’s full support.
Erik Hanell, president and CEO of Stena Bulk, said: “We do of course appreciate this step of development and that this is a first sign that we will soon see more positive progress from the Iranian authorities.”
The development came as the head of the Iranian supreme leader’s office said the UK was sending a mediator to negotiate for the release of the vessel.
“A country that at one time appointed ministers and lawyers in Iran has reached a point where they send a mediator and plead for their ship to be freed,” Mohammad Mohammadi-Golpayegani said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news site.
UK sources insisted they were not aware of any mediator being sent to Iran, insisting that diplomatic contacts were through the ambassador and embassy in Tehran.
Tehran has claimed the tanker collided with a fishing boat while the UK has accused Iran of “state piracy”.