Iran Foreign Minister: Britain must admit to trespassing before soldiers are released
Thursday, March 29, 2007
"This [situation] can be solved. But they have to show that it was a mistake, that will help us to end this issue. Admitting the mistake will facilitate a solution to the problem," Mottaki said during a summit in Saudi Arabia.
Britain has not yet responded to the comment.
According to a UK government report, the Iranian government initially gave the position of the incident as a location outside Iranian territorial waters. However, on March 24, General Alireza Afshar, Iran's top military general, stated that the sailors were engaged "in illegal and suspicious activities" inside Iranian waterways at the time of their detention and that the sailors "have admitted to violating the territorial waters of the Islamic republic".
After the UK government queried the statement by General Alireza Afshar, the Iranian government gave a revised position for the incident, now placing it inside Iranian territorial waters.
|By the time HMS Cornwall knew that our forces had been detained unlawfully by the Iranians, they were in Iranian waters, and again military engagement would have put a lot of lives at risk. I think that they took the right decision...|
Despite the increased tension, Mottaki stated that officials from Britain will be able to see the soldiers.
"We have accepted that [the request by Britain], there is no problem. Measures are underway [to allow officials to meet] them. They can meet them," said Mottaki.
Ban has a scheduled meeting on Friday morning with Mottaki to discuss the current detainment of the British soldiers and plans to ask for their release.
The sailors and marines, from the frigate HMS Cornwall, had been inspecting, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1723, a ship that was believed to be smuggling cars into Iraq, though it was subsequently cleared after inspection, when Iranian gunboats surrounded the troops.
In parliament yesterday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was asked about the rules of engagement for UK forces operating under a UN mandate in Iraqi waters. Blair suggested that "the rules of engagement do allow [UK] forces to take whatever measures are necessary in their own self-defence...I think that [the soldiers] took the right decision and did what was entirely sensible," said Blair in reference to the UK forces not engaging in military combat when first confronted by the Iranians.
Blair also commented on the response by the crew of HMS Cornwall. "By the time HMS Cornwall knew that our forces had been detained unlawfully by the Iranians, they were in Iranian waters, and again military engagement would have put a lot of lives at risk. I think that they took the right decision," said Blair.
- "UK freezes business arrangements with Iran; detained sailors and marines shown on TV" — Wikinews, March 28, 2007
- "UK prepared to go 'into different phase' if sailors and marines not released by Iran within days" — Wikinews, March 27, 2007
- "British sailors detained by Iran "to be tried for espionage"" — Wikinews, March 25, 2007
- "15 Royal Navy sailors captured at gunpoint by Iranian guards" — Wikinews, March 23, 2007
- Bill Varner. "Ban Says He Will Ask Iran to Release 15 U.K. Sailors (Update2)" — , March 29, 2007
- "Iran demands UK admit incursion" — , March 29, 2007
- "Iran: Britain must admit entering waters" — , March 29, 2007
- Salah Nasrawi. "Iran demands Britain admit entering its waters to resolve standoff" — , March 28, 2007
- "The Prime Minister was asked—" — , March 28, 2007
- "UK reveals Iran dispute evidence" — , March 28, 2007
- "The capture of the UK crew" — , March 28, 2007
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