Blair insists no Iran 'deal'

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has said that the release of 15 Navy personnel held by Iran since March 23 was secured "without any deal".

Blair insists no Iran 'deal'

TonyBlair, the British prime minister, has said that the release of 15 Navypersonnel held by Iransince March 23 was secured "without any deal".

TheBritish leader made the remarks on Thursday just after a planecarrying the 15 from Iranlanded at Heathrow airport in London.

They werefreed "without any deal, without any negotiation, without any sideagreement of any nature," Blair said, making a statement outsidehis Londonoffice.

OnWednesday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, said the 15 were to be'pardoned' and released.

"Underthe influence of the Muslim Prophet, [Iran] forgives these 15 people andgives their freedom to the British people as a gift," Ahmadinejad told anews conference on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejadalso told the news conference that Britainwas not "brave enough" to admit it had made a mistake in thestandoff, which began when Tehran seized the 15in the Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iraqand Iranon March 23.

The 15were again shown on Iranian television before their departure, celebratingand again apologising for entering Iranian waters.

Theirrelease coincides with the release in Baghdadof an Iranian diplomat seized in early February.

Iran had blamed US forces for the abduction but the US deniedinvolvement.

Iranianstate media also said five Iranian officials captured by US forces in northern Iraq in Januarywere expected to receive their first visit by an Iranian diplomat soon.

Britishwelcome

The 15British personnel, seized by Iranon March 23, have been held for 13 days.

TonyBlair, the British prime minister, welcomed the decision to freethe personnel and thanked allies in Europe, the UN Security Council andthe Middle East for their help.

He said Britain hadtaken "a measured approach, firm but calm, not negotiating but notconfronting either" in the negotiations.

Blairalso said the situation had opened up "new and interesting"lines of communication between Britainand Iran.

Iran is also presenting the release ofthe personnel as a diplomatic victory.

Territorialintegrity

Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister and now advisor to supremeleader Ali Khamenei, said Iranhad achieved its objectives in the crisis.

"TheIslamic Republic of Iran showed that it will defend its territorialintegrity and has no fear," he said.

The decision to release the detainees came after Iranacknowledged a "change of tone" from Britainfollowing talks between Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's SupremeNational Security Council, and Nigel Sheinwald, Blair's chief foreign policyadviser, late on Tuesday.

Iran had insisted that they key to resolving the crisiswas an admission from Britainthat the sailors and marines did intrude into Iranian territorial waters whenthey were seized.

Britain maintains the group was carryingout routine anti-smuggling operations in Iraqi waters in line with a UNmandate, but Iransays the sailors' Global Positioning System (GPS) devices show they intrudedinto Iranian waters.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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