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Saturday, 04 July 2020

Iran summons ambassador over possible U.S. measures against Venezuela shipment

Reuters , Sunday 17 May 2020
Iran
FILE - In this April 30, 2017 file photo, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, inaugurates the Persian Gulf Star Refinery in Bandar Abbas, Iran. Five Iranian tankers likely carrying at least $45.5 million worth of gasoline and similar products are now sailing to Venezuela as of Sunday, May 17, 2020, part of a wider deal between the two U.S.-sanctioned nations amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. Analysts say the gasoline they carry came from the Persian Gulf Star Refinery. (Photo: AP)
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Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador, who represents U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic, over possible measures Washington could take against an Iranian fuel shipment to Venezuela, the Mehr news agency reported.

A senior official in U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration told Reuters on Thursday the United States was considering measures it could take in response to Iran’s shipment of fuel to crisis-stricken Venezuela.

The oil sectors of Iran and Venezuela, members of OPEC, are both under U.S. sanctions. The Trump administration official declined to specify the measures being weighed but said options would be presented to Trump.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi passed on a message to the ambassador on Sunday warning against any U.S. threat against the Iranian tankers, according to a report on the foreign ministry website.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also wrote a letter to U.N. chief Antonio Guterres warning that any American measures against the fuel shipment would be dangerous, illegal and a form of piracy, according to the report on the foreign ministry website.

At least one tanker carrying fuel loaded at an Iranian port has set sail for Venezuela, according to vessel tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon on Wednesday, which could help ease an acute scarcity of gasoline in the South American country.

Venezuela is in desperate need of gasoline and other refined fuel products to keep the country functioning amid an economic collapse under socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela produces crude oil but its infrastructure has been crippled during the economic crisis.

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