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Iran Demands Britain Admit Sailors Strayed into Iranian Waters

By VOA News

Iran's foreign minister says Britain must admit that its 15 sailors mistakenly entered Iranian waters in order to resolve the standoff over their capture.

Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters late Wednesday on the sidelines of an Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia that admitting the mistake will help resolve the crisis.

Britain says global positioning satellite information shows the Britons were in Iraqi waters when they were captured last Friday.

Britain also has frozen "official bilateral business" with Iran, except efforts to gain release of its naval personnel.

Earlier Wednesday, Iranian state television broadcast a video of the British sailors, including the only female captive, Faye Turney.

She was shown saying the group had "obviously trespassed" into Iranian waters.

Britain called the video "completely unacceptable." British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett voiced concern that Turney's remarks could have been made under coercion.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says Iran's seizure of the group was unacceptable and illegal. He and President Bush discussed the incident Wednesday in a videoconference.

The White House said Mr. Bush fully backs Mr. Blair.

Britain says the naval personnel were conducting a routine inspection of a merchant ship in the Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq when they were seized last week.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters

British marine apologizes for entry into Iranian waters

Tehran, March 28, IRNA - British marine Mrs. Faye Turney from F99 Royal Navy on Wednesday admitted entry into Iranian territorial waters and apologized for doing so.

Faye Turney

Turney, who is going to be freed soon, said that Iranian coast guards treated them friendly and with hospitality.

"My name is Faye Turney. I come from England, I live in England at present. I have served on F99. I have served in Navy nine years, I was arrested on Friday on 23rd of March which obviously has passed internal waters.

"I was treated friendly and hospitable they are nice people, they explained why we were arrested, and there is no aggression, no hurt, no harm, they are very very compassionate," she said in an interview.

Meanwhile, she forwarded a letter to her family to inform them about her well-being.

An Iranian foreign ministry official handed over the letter to British Ambassador to Tehran Jeffrey Adams on Wednesday.

"I want you all to know that I am well and safe. I am being well looked after.

"The people are friendly and hospitable, very compassionate and warm. I have written a letter to the Iranian people to apologise for us entering into their waters.

"Please don't worry about me; I am staying strong. Hopefully it won't be long until I am home, she said in part of her letter to her family.

Iran announced that she will be freed soon.

15 British marines, who had violated Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, were arrested on Friday.

Iran TV Shows British Sailors as Britain Freezes Bilateral Ties with Iran

By Sonja Pace, VOA, London

Iran has shown television footage of some of the 15 British sailors detained by Iranian forces last Friday and hints they could be released soon. Earlier in the day, Britain announced it is freezing all bilateral business with Iran except efforts to gain the release of the naval personnel. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London.

Pictures on Iranian television show the British sailors eating a meal. They also show an interview with the only woman in the group, Faye Turney, who is wearing a head scarf and smoking a cigarette. She is quoted talking about their arrest.

"I was arrested Friday, the 23rd of March," she said. "Obviously, we trespassed into their waters. They were very friendly, very hospitable ... they explained to us why we'd been arrested, there was no aggression, no hurt, no harm."

The pictures seem to show that the group was safe and well. However, in London the Foreign Office called the video "completely unacceptable."

The television footage came amid stepped-up efforts by Britain to pressure Iran to release the naval crew.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett told the House of Commons Wednesday the government would focus all its bilateral efforts with Iran on gaining the release of the British sailors. "We will therefore be imposing a freeze on all other official bilateral business with Iran until this situation is resolved," she said.

Earlier in the day, Vice Admiral Charles Style presented maps and GPS coordinates of the British patrol boats as well as the merchant vessel the British personnel had just finished searching when they were seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. He said the coordinates could leave no doubt.

"The position places her 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi territorial waters," he said.

Iran insists the patrol boats were in Iranian waters.

Speaking in parliament Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was no justification for the detention of the British sailors.

"It was completely unacceptable, wrong and illegal. We had hoped to see their immediate release. This has not happened. It is now time to ratchet up the diplomatic and international pressure in order to make sure the Iranian government understands their total isolation on this issue," he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia, Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said the issue can be resolved, and he said Faye Turney, in particular would be released soon.

"The subject is under consideration and I think it will be solved based on rules and regulations. But, ... the lady will be released soon," he said.

The Iranians have said the British naval personnel are being treated well.

... Payvand News - 3/29/07 ... --

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