» Thursday, July 1, 2004


Asked the Prime Minister’s reaction to the Defence Secretary’s Written Statement last night in which he had said that the eight British servicemen who had been detained in Iraq had confirmed that they had been forcibly escorted into Iranian waters, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he had nothing to add to what Mr Hoon had set out in his statement yesterday. The boats had been on an entirely routine operation. There had been no intention to enter Iranian waters. Our own enquiries were continuing and we were discussing this issue with the parties involved. The British Ambassador in Tehran was also raising this matter with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a daily basis.

Asked if the Prime Minister believed that the British Government had acted prematurely in apologising for the incident, the PMOS said that the important thing had been to ensure the safe return of the eight men involved. That had happened. In the meantime, discussions about the return of the boats were continuing. As Mr Hoon had made clear, we had expressed our disapproval of the blindfolding of the men and the fact they had been shown on television. He had also underlined that we did not expect a re-occurrence of such an incident.

Asked if we had written off the boats, the PMOS said no. We wanted the boats to be returned – not least, as the Defence Secretary had said, because it would help to resolve what had actually happened. Asked if normal relations with Iran had been restored, the PMOS said that we, together with our international partners, were continuing to raise a number of other issues with the Iranian Government, such as the question of nuclear equipment. We would deal with each issue one by one in an attempt to resolve them, and in doing so would have no compunction in speaking our mind if we considered it necessary.

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

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