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Defence Secretary: British troops not permitted to cross Iran border

London, Nov. 1, IRNA-British troops in southern Iraq are not authorized to cross the border into Iran, Defence Secretary John Reid has confirmed.

Reid made the clarification in a one-word written parliamentary reply, published Tuesday, when answering "no" to the question of whether present rules of engagement of UK forces and special forces in Iraq permit forces to operate over the border with Iran.

The confirmation comes after the Conservative's shadow foreign secretary Liam Fox asked Prime Minister Tony Blair to intervene and clarify comments made by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, suggesting that the decision was up to British commanders on the ground.

In a letter to Blair on October 13, Fox said that he was "shocked and disturbed" at Straw saying it was "not for him to speculate" if UK troops can cross into Iran.

"Sending our Armed Forces across an international border clearly is a major political decision, with profound implications for Britain's international relations," he warned the British premier.

The request for Blair's intervention came after a succession of British newspapers reported unidentified British defence sources in Basra making a series of allegations of Iranian involvement in helping the insurgency in Iraq.

In a separate written question, Reid was also asked whether the British government had any credible evidence against Iran, but he said that he had "nothing more to add" to his previous statements that the UK "cannot be certain."

... Payvand News - 11/1/05 ... --

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