Merkel: Iran must immediately release sailors

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday called on Iran to immediately release the 15 British sailors and marines it seized in the Gulf. Speaking during a visit to Israel, Merkel said that Germany, as the current leader of the European Union, fully backed Britain's efforts to return the Royal Navy crew. "Britain has the full solidarity of the European Union," Merkel said in a speech at Hebrew University. "We demand the immediate release of the 15 British soldiers." Britain has frozen contacts with Iran until it releases the sailors and marines, insisting that the seizure of the ship March 23 by the Revolutionary Guards was illegal since it was outside Iranian waters. Merkel was in Israel during a tour of the Middle East that includes stops in Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.