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8 January 2012 - 23:05

Iran's government has welcomed the US Navy's rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen held by pirates, calling it a positive humanitarian gesture.

US officials announcedthat the fishermen had been rescued by a US Navy destroyer , more than 40 days after their boat was commandeered by suspected Somali pirates in the northern Arabian Sea. The rescue came just days after Tehran warned the US to keep the same group of warships out of the Persian Gulf in a reflection of Iran's fear that American warships could try to enforce an embargo against Iranian oil exports.

'The rescue of Iranian sailors by American forces is considered a humanitarian gesture and we welcome this behaviour,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Naval forces from several countries patrol shipping lanes in the region in pursuit of Somali pirates. The pirates, who are after huge ransoms, have dramatically expanded their range in recent years and targeted some of the largest vessels to take to the seas, including oil supertankers.

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