» Thursday, July 1, 2004


Asked for a reaction to Iran’s denial that they had forcibly escorted the eight British servicemen into Iranian waters, the PMOS said that as he understood it, the only way we would be able to find out precisely what had happened was for Iran to return our boats and navigation equipment. Asked when that might happen, the PMOS said that although the Iranian Foreign Minister had promised to give the boats back, we had received no indication of when that might be at this stage. Asked to explain how navigation equipment would help discover whether the servicemen had been forced into Iranian waters or whether they had entered by accident, the PMOS said that he wasn’t an expert on boats or their navigation equipment and he therefore thought it would be best to refer journalists to the MoD for further information on this matter. Put to him that the Government should be taking a tougher line on the return of the boats, the PMOS said we that already had, hence the Defence Secretary’s statement last night. Equally, we believed that the best way to resolve this issue was through proper dialogue, and that would continue. Asked if the Iranians had “stolen” our boats, the PMOS said he thought that it would be more helpful to continue our dialogue with the Iranian authorities in a sensible way rather than engage in pejorative language. We had underlined our belief that the boats should be returned. We had also protested at the way the eight men had been treated. Since their release, discussions with the Iranians had been ongoing. That would continue.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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