'Damascus played key role in sailors' release'

Syria's information minister and foreign minister said Wednesday that Damascus had played a key role in resolving the standoff over the 15 British sailors held by Iran. Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said that Syria had been asked "to help positively in the issue of British sailors" since their March 23 seizure by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy in the Persian Gulf waters. "Syrian efforts and the Iranian willingness culminated with the release of the British sailors," Bilal said but did not provide details. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told reporters that "Syria exercised a sort of quiet diplomacy to solve this problem and encourage dialogue between the two parties," referring to Britain and Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in Tehran on Wednesday that the 15 member British crew would be freed.