Iran: UK must admit it entered waters
Iranian video of detained Britons showed the only woman captive saying her group had "trespassed."
By ASSOCIATED PRESS, JPOST STAFF
March 29, 2007 03:07
2 minute read.
british sailors 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's foreign minister said Britain must admit that its 15 sailors and marines entered Iranian waters in order to resolve the standoff over their capture by the Middle East nation.
Manouchehr Mottaki's statement Wednesday in an interview came on a day of escalating tensions, highlighted by an Iranian video of the detained Britons that showed the only woman captive saying her group had "trespassed" in Iranian waters. Britain angrily denounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with the Middle East nation.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday he was waiting for a response from Teheran on the possibility of Turkish diplomats visiting the 15 British sailors and marines detained by Iran.
Perspective: Just don't mention the war
Iran TV shows video of British captives
Mottaki said that if the alleged entry into Iranian waters was a mistake "this 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," he said late Wednesday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was attending a summit of Arab leaders.
It was the first time that Iran has publicly suggested a way to resolve the crisis, but British acquiescence appeared unlikely as the country has been insisting since the crisis began that its troops were in Iraqi waters and released documents on Wednesday to back up the claim.
There was no immediate comment from the British to Mottaki's statement. A call to Britain's Foreign Office in London was not answered early Thursday.
Mottaki also backed off a prediction that the female sailor, Faye Turney, could be freed Wednesday or Thursday, but said Tehran agreed to allow British officials to meet with service personnel.
"We have accepted that (the British request), there is no problem. Measures are underway (to arrange meeting.) They can meet them," he said.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government announced it was freezing all dealings with Iran except to negotiate the release of its personnel, adding to a public exchange of sharp comments that helped fuel a spike in world oil prices.
Britain's military released a GPS readout it said proved the Royal Navy personnel were seized 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters Friday. But Mottaki said Iran had GPS devices from the British boats that showed they were in Iranian territory.
A few hours later, a brief video of the captured Britons was shown on Iran's Arabic language satellite television station, Al-Alam.
One segment showed sailors and marines sitting in an Iranian boat in open waters immediately after their capture.
The video also displayed what appeared to be a handwritten letter from Faye Turney, 26, to her family.
"I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologize for us entering their waters," it said. The letter also asks Turney's parents in Britain to look after her 3-year-old daughter, Molly, and her husband, Adam.