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UK unwilling to disclose discussions with Iran on returning boats

London, July 8, IRNA -- The British government is unwilling to disclose what discussions it has had with Iran to obtain the return of three patrol boats that transgressed into Iranian waters last month.

"The details of such representations are confidential between governments," Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told parliament in a written reply published Thursday.

The minister also refused to say what his assessment was of the accuracy of subsequent denial made by British servicemen that they did not enter Iranian waters after first admitting that they did on June 21.

He also declined to say what was the medical reason for one of the eight servicemen returning to the UK after being released, saying that the "details are a private matter and are confidential."

Hoon was responding to a series of questions by the Conservative's shadow minister for international affairs Julian Lewis, in which he referred to the parliamentary statement he made on June 30 when he alleged that the 'deadline' for Iran to return the boats had passed.

"Our latest assessment remains that which I set out," the defence minister said.

He added that his inquiries would be "greatly assisted by the return of an intact Global Positioning System (GPS)" which was among equipment carried by the boats.

In his statement of June 30, Hoon insisted that British personnel were "trained to observe the normal rules of maritime navigation and are issued with modern charts and equipment."

"This should be sufficient to prevent inadvertent digressions across the border and we are not aware of any previous allegations that the border (with Iran) has been violated," he said.

... Payvand News - 7/8/04 ... --

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