UN Security Council calls for release of British soldiers in Iran

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Friday, March 30, 2007

The United Nations Security Council has issued a statement calling for a "early resolution" to the rising tensions between United Kingdom and Iran by releasing all 15 British sailors and marines who were detained by Iranian forces on March 23.

"Members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the capture by the Revolutionary Guard and the continuing detention by the government of Iran of 15 United Kingdom naval personnel and appealed to the government of Iran to allow consular access in terms of the relevant international laws," said the U.N. Security Council in a statement.

"Members of the Security Council support calls, including by the secretary general in his March 29 meeting with the Iranian foreign minister, for an early resolution of this problem including the release of the 15 UK personnel," added the statement.

United Nations Security Council.

All 15 members of the Council agreed to the wording of the statement and released it after nearly four hours of debate, but Russia and South Africa opposed to having the statement or the Council's recommendations be "too harsh" or to put the blame fully on the Iranian government.

Iran released a statement shortly after the Security Council met saying that getting the U.N. involved, "will not be helpful."

"This case can and should be settled through bilateral channels. The British government's attempt to engage third parties, including the Security Council, with this case is not helpful," said a statement released by Iran's U.N Mission.

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 sailors and arrested them at gunpoint.

On Thursday, Iran stated that they are "suspending" the release of the 15 soldiers, including Faye Turney a female soldier, 26, who was supposed to be released "very soon."

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