A Maltese team composed of police officers and officials from the Malta Maritime Authority boarded the Arctic Sea yesterday to carry out a maritime safety investigation into the ship in parallet with a law enforcement one, the MMA said.

The MMA said that an agreement was reached between the Russian and Maltese authorities for a Maltese team to join the Russian investigative team who boarded the Arctic Sea on Monday.

The ship is currently under the control of the Russian authorities and is located 16 nautical miles off Las Palmas.

The Maltese flagged ship is owned by a Finnish company whose inspectors were yesterday stopped by Russian soldiers from boarding the ship.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman would not confirm the alleged involvement of Israeli secret agents in the mysterious disappearance of the Maltese-flagged cargo ship, reportedly to thwart the delivery of missiles to Iran.

The reaction came in the wake of reports in the British media on Sunday that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad was behind the Arctic Sea's hijacking.

AFP quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissing the reports as "absolutely not true".

The Arctic Sea, which has a Russian crew, was allegedly hijacked in Swedish waters in late July before being recovered by the Russian navy in the Atlantic Ocean several weeks later.

The ship was officially carrying timber from Finland to Algeria.

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