Australia to Iran: 'Hostages situation serious'

Australia has told Iran that taking 15 British sailors and marines hostage could become "increasingly serious" if they were not released immediately, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Saturday. Downer spoke about his telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki. "His argument is that the British have to admit their guilt - transgressing into Iranian territorial seas - before any negotiation on the release can take place," Downer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "I made the point to him that regardless of where the sailors were ... this kind of seizing of the sailors and taking them away into Iran and putting them on television and so on was a completely disproportionate response and risks isolating Iran still further from the bulk of the international community," Downer said.