UK seeks direct talks with Iran

Britain has proposed direct bilateral talks with Iran to resolve the standoff over Tehran's seizure of 15 British military personnel.

UK seeks direct talks with Iran

Britain has proposed direct bilateraltalks with Iran to resolvethe standoff over Tehran'sseizure of 15 British military personnel.

Astatement from the office of Tony Blair, the British prime minister, backingdirect talks came after a senior Iranian leader said he believedthat bilateral diplomacy may resolve the dispute quickly.

"Theprime minister remains committed to resolving this by diplomatic means,"the statement from Blair's office said.

"TheUKhas proposed direct bilateral discussions and awaits an Iranian response onwhen these can begin."

Britain said it had contacts on Tuesdaywith Iran,including Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran'sSupreme National Security Council.

"Onthe basis of these, the prime minister believes that both sides share a desirefor an early resolution of this issue through direct talks," the statementissued by Blair's office said.

Diplomaticchannel

Earlier,Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, told reporters: "Weare not seeking confrontation. We are seeking to pursue this through diplomaticchannels."

Iran said on Tuesday that the disputecould be resolved soon if Britaincontinued its "changed behaviour" and accepted that its sailors andmarines had entered Iranian waters illegally.

Thestandoff began when Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized the sailors and marineson March 23 in the northern Gulf, where the British navy has been searchingshipping in an effort to prevent smuggling into Iraq.

Britishefforts to get the international community to condemn Iran has angered Tehran. Britainhas also criticised the parading of its military personnel on Iraniantelevision, saying broadcasts showing them admitting guilt had been forced onthem.

Larijanileft the door open for discussion about whether the personnel had strayedinto Iranian waters by saying a "delegation" should be sent toclarify the issue.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's anti-Western president who beatLarijani in the 2005 presidential race, will talk about the captive personnelon Wednesday, according to Iranian television.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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