Hassan Rouhani says Iran ready for 'just' negotiations after tanker seizure

His comments came as the first British-flagged ship transited the Strait of Hormuz since the capture last week

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on July 24, 2019 shows President Hassan Rouhani chairing a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran.  - === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===
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Iran is ready for "just" negotiations but not if they mean surrender, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, without saying what talks he had in mind.

Mr Rouhani seemed to be referring to possible negotiations with the United States. US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year but has said he is willing to hold talks with the Islamic republic.

"As long as I have the responsibility for the executive duties of the country, we are completely ready for just, legal and honest negotiations to solve the problems," Mr Rouhani said, according to his official website.

"But at the same time we are not ready to sit at the table of surrender under the name of negotiations."

He said that Tehran was not looking for tensions with any European countries.

He said that if the US violates Iranian airspace again with another drone then they will receive the same response as they did last month when the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps shot down an American drone.

His comments came on the same day that a large British-flagged vessel transited the Strait of Hormuz and arrived at a port in Qatar on Wednesday in the first such passage made by a British ship of its size since Iran seized a UK-flagged tanker last week, according to maritime tracking data.

Maritime publication Lloyd's List identified the vessel as the BW Elm and reported that a British warship, likely the HMS Montrose, closely shadowed the large liquefied petroleum gas carrier but that the Royal Navy did not provide a direct escort.

The Ministry of Defence declined to specifically comment on the transit and referred to recent comments made by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in which he confirmed the HMS Montrose has accompanied more than 30 ships over the last ten days through the strait.

Britain this week announced plans to develop and deploy a Europe-led "maritime protection mission" to safeguard shipping in the area. It comes as Boris Johnson prepares to assume office as prime minister on Wednesday.

One-fifth of global crude passes through the shipping corridor , making it an internationally important chokepoint for global energy supplies from Gulf exporters.

Data on tracking site Marine Traffic showed the commercial BW Elm ship arrived at a port in Qatar early Wednesday after transiting the strait on Tuesday. The UK government has advised British-flagged ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz.