The EU has told
"The presidency of the council of the European Unioncalls upon the Iranian Government to immediately release the 15 British seamendetained yesterday,"
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Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister,also said that
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The British troops - including one woman - weredetained on Friday during what
General Ali Reza Afshar, a senior Iranian military official,told an Iranian news agency on Saturday that the captured Britons had"confessed to illegal entry into
"The said personnel are being interrogated and haveconfessed to aggression into the Islamic Republic of Iran waters," Afsharwas quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
In London Rasoul Movahedian,
Shortly afterwards, Beckett called on
British officials declined to confirm whether Movahedian hadoffered any assurances that the personnel would be released.
The Britons from the frigate HMS Cornwall, were in twoinflatable boats and engaged in a "routine smugglinginvestigation" when they were seized, the
The abduction of the British servicemen - includingone woman - came as the UN Security Council prepared to vote on newsanctions aimed at forcing
In June 2004, six British marines and two navy sailorswere detained for three days in
They were paraded blindfold on television and forced toapologise for their "mistake".
On that occasion
According to a statement from the US Navy's Fifth Fleet,which is based in
Commander Kevin Aandahl said the British crew members were intercepted byseveral larger patrol boats operated by Iranian sailors belonging to theIranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, a force that operates separately fromthe country's regular navy.
The Iranian boats normally carry bow-mounted machine guns,while the British boarding party carried only sidearms, Aandahl said.
No shots were fired and there appeared to be no physicalharm done to any personnel involved or their vessels, Aandahl said.
The seizure of the British vessels, a pair of rigidinflatable boats known as RIBs, took place in long-disputed waters just outsideof the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab, Aandahl said.
A 1975 treaty gave the waters to