» Thursday, March 29, 2007

Iran Developments

The Leader was asked, from his previous experience as Foreign Secretary dealing with the issue, if he would characterise the present situation. Mr Straw said that the negotiations were being handled by Margaret Beckett and the Prime Minister, together with other Foreign Office Ministers and diplomatic staff. He wished to be very careful about what he said in response to the questioner.

From his own experience, not least dealing with the situation in 2004, he knew that the situation was bound to be worrying until it was resolved and, frankly, one could never know how long it would take. Mr Straw added that, on behalf of the Foreign Secretary, he could reassure family and colleagues of the 15 captured naval personnel that everything was being done to secure their release as quickly as possible.

Later, asked if he had given any thought to using his personal contacts with Iran in mediation, Mr Straw said he had not. He said that, from the experience of previous crises, it was necessary to have pretty clear lines. He did not think it would be appropriate for him to be involved. Mr Straw said that the situation was obvious: the naval personnel had been in Iraqi waters, they had been picked up without justification and the British Government had leant over backwards to provide an opportunity for their release by the Iranian authorities without loss of face or embarrassment to them. The opportunities had been lost and it was now a more difficult phase. Mr Straw said he thought that external intermediaries could make life more difficult.

Asked if he was confident that a UN statement could be secured, Mr Straw said that it was a matter for the Foreign Office, but he hoped there could be one quickly. He could not say for certain, but there ought to be one. The Leader said Iran’s behaviour was not acceptable to any members of the international community.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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