Portugal to maintain reservations over steps taken in relation to ship seized by Iran

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Portugal will continue to “take all the necessary and appropriate steps” in relation to the Portuguese-flagged ship captured by the Iranian authorities, but given the sensitivity of the situation, it will “remain reserved”, a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today.

Portugal’s ambassador to Tehran met with Iran’s chief diplomat this morning (10.30am Lisbon time) to get clarification on the capture of the Portuguese-flagged ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

Following this meeting, a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told Lusa that “the government is continuing to take all the necessary and appropriate steps”.

“Given the new context and the sensitivity of the situation, it is advisable to remain reserved,” he added, giving no further details about the meeting.

Asked whether or not the Portuguese government is considering stepping up diplomatic measures in the face of this incident, the same source said that this possibility is not ruled out, taking into account the “constant monitoring and evolution” of the situation.

He also said he couldn’t answer whether Foreign Minister Paulo Rangel would recall the Iranian ambassador to Lisbon.

The Portuguese-flagged vessel, a container ship, was seized on Saturday by Iran near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf with a total of 25 crew members on board.

At the time, the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that it was a cargo ship, the MSC Aries, flying the Portuguese flag (registered in the Autonomous Region of Madeira), and that the company that owned it was Zodiac Maritime Limited, based in London.

The statement said that the situation is being monitored under the direct coordination of the Prime Minister’s office, involving the ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency, National Defense and the Economy.

The incident comes at a time of high tension, created by the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on the 1st of this month, which left seven members of the Revolutionary Guard dead. Iran has promised to retaliate, and the United States warned that Tehran might respond over the weekend.

The captured container ship is linked to the company Zodiac Maritime, part of the Zodiac Group, with a fleet of more than 180 ships and owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

The ship left Khalifa, in the United Arab Emirates, bound for Nhava Sheva, in India, and the last position received was on Friday, in exactly the same spot near the Strait of Hormuz where it was seized.

Since 2019, Iran has been accused of being involved in several robberies and attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman area, through which around a fifth of all oil traded in the world passes.

Tensions, marked in the last six months by the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, have recently risen with the April 1 bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, which killed senior Iranian military officials and was blamed on Tel Aviv.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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