Britain, Iran starts high-level talks

Britain said on Wednesday it had held talks with a senior Iranian official about 15 captured British sailors, also Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to hold a news conference today.

Britain, Iran starts high-level talks

Britain said on Wednesday it had held talks with a seniorIranian official about 15 captured British sailors and Syriasaid it was mediating in the crisis, fuelling hopes that a diplomatic solutioncan be found.

The high-level contact marks a step forward in attempts by both countries toresolve the 13-day stand-off that has heightened Middle East tensions and spooked world oil markets.

The dispute centers on where the Britons were when they were seized. Britain saysthey were in Iraqi waters on a routine U.N. mission. Tehran says they had strayed into itsterritory.

Iran's official newsagency said British Prime Minister Tony Blair'sadviser Nigel Sheinwald had spoken directly to Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's SupremeNational Security Council, on Tuesday night.

Blair's office said there had been direct talks with Larijani but declinedto confirm Sheinwald was involved.

Sheinwald, set to be Britain'sambassador to Washington later this year, hasbeen heavily involved in Blair's drive for Middle East peace and last yearbecame the first high-level British official to visit Syria in years.

Iran's regional neighbor Syria said onWednesday it had stepped in to try and mediate in the dispute, which eruptedwhen Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized the 15 sailors in the northern Gulf onMarch 23.

"This solution requires calm diplomacy and Syria is currently undertaking suchcalm diplomacy between the two states," Syrian Foreign Minister Walidal-Moualem told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa in an interview.

A senior Iranian official said on Wednesday Britainwas taking "appropriate action" to end the row over Tehran's detention of 15 British militarypersonnel.

Iranian news conference

Iran'sPresident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was due to hold a news conference on Wednesday,in which he is expected to talk about the captured 14 men and a woman.

Iranstate television said he would "explain Iran's view."

Meanwhile, an Iranian representative is due to meet the five Iranians, Iran's officialIRNA news agency said on Wednesday. It did not say when any meeting would takeplace.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16