Sunday, March 25, 2007

EU tells Iran to free UK troops

Al Jazeera
March 24, 2007

The EU has told Iran to free fifteen British sailors who were captured after allegedly straying into Iranian waters near the Iraqi city of Basra.

"The presidency of the council of the European Union calls upon the Iranian Government to immediately release the 15 British seamen detained yesterday," Germany foreign ministry said in a statement.

Germany, which currently holds the EU presidency, said on Saturday that it had earlier raised the matter with the Iranian foreign ministry.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, also said that Berlin had obtained official confirmation that the troops were under arrest.

The British troops - including one woman - were detained on Friday during what Britain described as a "routine anti-smuggling operation" in the Shatt al-Arab waterway that divides Iraq and Iran.

Iran's Fars news agency said on Saturday that the sailors and marines had been taken to Tehran to explain their "aggressive action".

Photo: British and US vessels often operate in the disputed mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway [ EPA]

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