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TEHERAN, January 7 (Itar-Tass) —— Teheran has welcomed the liberation by U.S. naval ships of an Iranian fishing schooner, which was captured by pirates. “We regard the saving of the lives of Iranian fishermen as a positive and humane step, and we welcome it. We believe such actions should become a norm for all,” Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the Al Alam TV Channel on Saturday.
A report came on Friday about the liberation by U.S. naval ships of the crew of the Iranian fishing schooner, which was kept by pirates for some 40 days. Captain John Kirby, official representative of the Pentagon, specified that 13 Iranians had been set free, who make up the crew of the small fishing boat Al Molay.
The tense relations between Iran and the United States were further aggravated recently because of the threat of Iranian officials to block the Strait of Hormuz, if sanctions against Iran are toughened. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the United States and Iran on Friday to bring down tension in the Strait of Hormuz by means of a dialogue.
The Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. It is a very important transport route, which accounts for 40 per cent of oil deliveries by sea. The Iranian Navy staged a large-scale naval exercise in the Persian Gulf from December 24 to January 2. The Iranians tested the most up-to-date ground-based and sea-based cruise missiles. Representatives of the Iranian military command demanded again that “alien forces” leave the region, and stressed that the Persian Gulf zone did not need guardians, and that the coastal countries are capable of maintaining security and stability in the area.