» Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Asked what the next steps would be regarding the navy personnel being held by Iran, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister would set out the position at Prime Minister’s Questions if he was given the opportunity to do so. It would be obvious that he regarded this as a very serious issue. At the same time we were trying to deal with this in a way in which we stated the facts and gave the Iranian Government the opportunity to do what we wished, which was to release our personnel. At the weekend the EU strongly supported our demand for immediate release, and other voices would come into the situation as the days went on. The important thing was that Iran recognised that these personnel were in Iraqi waters not Iranian waters, that was the point of the seminar this morning, and that was what we had been saying since the start. Today we would set out to underline why that was the case. It would then be a matter of Iran explaining to the international community what it intended to do to recognise that situation.

Asked what would happen if Iran simply did not accept the evidence, the PMOS replied that given the nature of the evidence, it was difficult to dispute.

Put to him that the Iranians have said they will allow consular officials from Britain to visit the troops, and was this something that we had heard through Government channels, the PMOS replied that he understood that there was an offer for Turkish officials to meet with the troops. Clearly we would welcome that, but clearly what we have been asking for was British consular officials to meet them, and that remained our position. We obviously welcomed the influence that those such a Turkey could bring to bear on that situation.

Put to him that the Iranians had said that following the initial phase of their inquiry into the incident, British Embassy consular official would be able to contact the personnel, the PMOS replied that he was not aware of this, and for reasons everyone would understand, he was being cautious before responding to anything. We would take it very carefully step by step.

Briefing took place at 9:00 | Search for related news

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