Iran: Britain must admit navy trespassed

Iran's foreign minister has said Britain must admit that its 15 soldiers entered Iranian waters to help end a standoff over their capture.

Iran: Britain must admit navy trespassed

Iran'sforeign minister has said Britainmust admit that its 15 soldiers entered Iranian waters to help end a standoffover their capture.

Manouchehr Mottaki's statement comes amid escalatingtensions, highlighted by Iranian television footage of the Britons showing theonly woman captive saying her group had "trespassed" into Iranianwaters.

Britaindenounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with Tehran.

Mottaki said that if the alleged entry into Iranian waterswas a mistake "this can be solved".

"But they have to show that it was a mistake - thatwill help us to end this issue," he said.

"Admitting the mistake will facilitate asolution to the problem,'' he said late on Wednesday.

It was the first time that Iran has publicly suggested a wayto resolve the crisis.

Britainmaintains that its troops were in Iraqi waters when they were ambushed, andreleased documents on Wednesday to back up the claim.

Access

Mottaki also said that Tehranhad agreed to allow British officials to meet the captured sailors.

"We have accepted that [British request], thereis no problem. Measures are under way. They can meet them," he said.

That concession did not appear to assuage British outrage.

Tony Blair, the prime minister, told parliament on Wednesdaythat "there was no justification whatever ... for their detention, it wascompletely unacceptable, wrong and illegal".

"We had hoped to see their immediate release; this hasnot happened. It is now time to ratchet up the diplomatic and internationalpressure in order to make sure the Iranian government understands its totalisolation on this issue," he said.

Mottaki also appeared to backtrack on an earlierstatement that Faye Turney, the only female among the 15 sailors captured,would be freed on Wednesday or Thursday, saying instead that Iran would lookinto releasing her "as soon as possible".

He said earlier reports that he had said she could be freedon Wednesday or Thursday were incorrect, saying: "I was probablymisquoted."

On Wednesday, Mottaki had said on the sidelines of an Arabsummit in Saudi Arabia:"Today or tomorrow, the lady will be released."

But whether by Thursday or "soon", the Britishforeign ministry said that was "not good enough", repeating a callfor the release of all 15 crew members.

"Obviously the release of one person, one of themilitary personnel and not the others, is not good enough," a ministryspokesman said.

Britainwill seek a UN Security Council endorsement of a statement on Thursday thatwould "deplore" Iran'sdetention of 15 of its sailors, according to a draft text.

Source:Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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