» Thursday, June 24, 2004


Asked if there would be a Commons Statement on the release of the British Servicemen in Iran, the PMOS said that he wasn’t aware of one at this stage. The latest information he had was that the eight Servicemen had now reached the British Embassy in Tehran, which we were obviously glad about. Asked what condition they were in, the PMOS said that they would be assessed by Embassy staff. However, we had no reason to believe that they were in anything other than good condition.

Asked for an assessment of the way the Iranian authorities had handled the situation, the PMOS said we were glad that the matter had been resolved diplomatically. As we had said yesterday, we had raised our concerns about the television pictures with the Iranian Government. The important thing now was to get the Servicemen back to their base in Iraq once they were ready to travel. Asked when the Servicemen were due to leave Iran, the PMOS said that as he understood it, it would depend on the availability of transport and flights. Asked if the boats had been returned, the PMOS said that that issue would be resolved at a local level. Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary had taken the opportunity at Cabinet this morning to pay tribute to the work of the diplomats on the ground who had clearly done a good job.

Asked if the Servicemen would face disciplinary action for allowing themselves to get into such a situation and losing their equipment, the PMOS said that the most important thing at the moment was for the Servicemen to get some rest and recuperate from their ordeal. They would obviously be debriefed as part of that process. Until then, there wasn’t much else he could say about the matter.

Asked how badly the incident had soured British relations with Iran, the PMOS said that the incident had been resolved diplomatically and it should be seen in that context. Other issues should be discussed on their own merits.

Asked if the British Government believed that Iran had broken international law in terms of the way it had treated the eight Servicemen, the PMOS repeated that we had made our concerns known to the Iranian authorities. He added that he did not think it would be helpful to say anything further at this stage.

Asked if the British Government accepted that the Servicemen had entered Iranian territorial waters prior to their capture, the PMOS said that a statement would be released at some point which would deal with such matters. He had no intention of pre-empting it. The important point was that the Servicemen were now at the British Embassy in Tehran from where they would return to their base in Iraq. That was what we were focussing on at the moment.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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