U.S. Navy rescues two Iranian fishermen stranded at sea for eight days

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The U.S. Navy said Sunday that it had rescued two Iranian fishermen adrift who had been in the Gulf of Oman for eight days.

The cargo ship USNS Charles Drew picked up the fishermen and provided medical care, food and water after members of an international naval coalition got distress calls, Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.

They were transferred Sunday to an Omani coast guard vessel near Muscat, the capital of Oman, the statement said. Both were “in good health and spirits,” it added.

“This is what we are trained and ready to do,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, the U.S. 5th Fleet and the multinational Combined Maritime Forces. “As professional mariners, we have a responsibility to help people in need at sea.”

Iranian officials did not comment on the news, which Iranian media did not report as tensions continue to run high between Iran and the U.S..

Indirect nuclear talks among the U.S., Iran and other countries are set to restart Monday in Vienna.

The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since 1979, but in 2015, they signed a landmark nuclear deal, which has restricted Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

The Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018. Last year, Iran announced that it would no longer abide by the plan after a U.S. drone strike killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the country’s elite Quds Force. Iran has amped up its uranium enrichment since then.

While this week's talks are seen as a way for both countries to again comply with the agreement, it is unclear what stance Iran will take after President Ebrahim Raisi was elected in June. Reuters reported that Raisi said early this month that Iran will not “back down” when the talks restart.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that the U.S. was “prepared to turn to other options” if the negotiations failed, and Israel has made it clear that it is ready to take military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

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