Iran's chief international negotiator said Monday that Iran wants to resolve the crisis over 15 captured British sailors through diplomacy, and that there was no need to put the crew on trial. Ali Larijani said Iran's priority "is to solve the problem through proper diplomatic channels." "We are not interested in letting this issue get further complicated," he told Britain's Channel 4 television news.
'All 15 British sailors confessed'
Larijani said Iran was seeking a quick conclusion to the crisis, which began when the 15 sailors and marines were captured by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf on March 23. Iran says they were in its territorial waters; Britain insists they were in Iraqi territory.
"We definitely believe that this issue can be resolved and there is no need for any trial," said Larijani, speaking through an interpreter.
Larijani, the top Iranian negotiator in all his country's foreign dealings, had suggested last week that the eight sailors and seven marines might be put on trial. Iranian television has aired footage of several of the crew members appearing to admit that they trespassed in Iraqi waters.
The British government has condemned the broadcasts and demanded the immediate release of its troops. But in the last day or so, quiet diplomacy has produced a softening of tone on both sides.
Larijani called for all involved to stop using "the language of force."
"There is a difference of view between the UK government and the Iranian government and this issue should be resolved bilaterally," he said.
"Definitely our priority would not be trial," he added - unless "the UK government would be insisting on not solving the problem through diplomatic channels."
On Britain's part, "a guarantee must be given that such violation will not be repeated," he added.
Larijani also called for delegation "to review the case, to clarify the case, first of all - to clarify whether they have been in our territorial waters at all." He did not say who might be in such a delegation.
"Through sensationalism, you cannot solve the problem," he said.