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Iranian President Hints At Possible Tanker Swap With Britain, Talks With U.S.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has hinted that Tehran is open to a possible tanker swap with Britain and indirect talks with the United States over its nuclear program and sanctions.

"We don't want tensions with some European countries," Rohani said in comments posted on the official government website on July 24.

Rohani said if Britain were to "cease the incorrect acts that they have done, including that of Gibraltar, Iran's response would be" appropriate to their actions.

Tensions between Iran and Britain have escalated since the British Royal Navy’s capture of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar on July 4 and Iran's subsequent seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker and its 23-member crew in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.

The British oil tanker and its crew have since been impounded at the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas for allegedly breaking "international maritime rules."

In response, Britain has called on its European allies to form a naval mission to keep shipping lanes open and safe.

Rohani also said Tehran would be open to talks with Washington should there be a "cease-fire" in crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran.

"In this regard some countries are intermediaries, though they themselves say they are not mediators and are just expressing their own views," said Rohani. "There has been correspondence from both sides on this issue and we are continuing this."

Hossein Dehghan, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, told Al Jazeera that Tehran would not hold talks with Washington "under any circumstances."

He also said that an EU naval mission in the Persian Gulf "will lead to a dangerous confrontation.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States have soared since last year, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that curbed Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China remain signatories to the accord and have said they will preserve it.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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