Head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s office in the southern province of Bushehr told Tasnim News Agency on Thursday that the 19 fishermen, the crew of two separate fishing boats, have been repatriated after diplomatic consultations with the Saudi authorities.
Crews of two fishing vessels were seized after bad weather, forcing them into kingdom's territorial waters.
Ali-Asgahr Arablou said one of the fishing boats with 11 sailors on board was captured by the Saudi coastguard on December 31, 2018, when bad weather forced the boat into Saudi Arabia’s territorial waters.
An Iranian dhow boat with 8 crew onboard was also confiscated by the Saudi forces on January 31, 2019, for the same reason, he added.
The Iranian fishermen had been arrested along the common sea border between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Arablou said.
He emphasized that the freed fishermen were in good health and have returned to the Rostami Port in Tangestan, Bushehr Province.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia’s coastguard opened fire on two Iranian fishing boats in the Persian Gulf waters after the vessels were blown off course by tidal waves.
The Saudi border guards began to shoot at the boats without verifying whether the vessels had crossed the Saudi border, killing an Iranian fisherman.
Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran deteriorated in recent months following attacks on a Saudi’s oil facility and an Iranian oil tanker.
However, Saudi Arabia and Iran in recent weeks were reported to have taken steps to defuse tensions in the region.