UK 'fails' to win Iran row support

Britain has failed to win support from the UN Security Council for a strong statement to "deplore" Iran's detention of 15 British naval crew members.

UK 'fails' to win Iran row support

Instead, after tense negotiations, the council agreed on awatered-down statement expressing "grave concern" and calling for anearly resolution of the problem, including the Britons' release.



Britainhad wanted the council to "deplore" Iran'sdetention of the Britons, call for their immediate release, and state that theywere seized in Iraqi waters, but Russia led objections from severalmembers.


Earlier, a Western diplomat quoted Vitaly Churkin, theRussian ambassador, as telling the council that Moscow would "not be able toaccept" the move.

Diplomats also reported that several Security Councilmembers - including Russia, China, Indonesia and Qatar - said they had no wayof independently ascertaining where the incident took place and were thereforewary of condemning it.

Britainsays satellite data proves its 15 sailors and marines were seized last week inIraqi waters.

Iranhas shown video footage of the capture and charts it says makeclear the capture took place in Iranian waters.

On trial

A senior Iranian officialhas said the sailors may be put on trial.

On Thursday, in a sign of support among EU members forthe British position, the French foreign ministry summoned Iran'sambassador to demand the captured servicemen's swift release.

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, said he wasdisgusted by Iran'streatment of the prisoners.

"Obviously I felt the same way most people do, which isa sense of disgust that people would be used in that way," he told ITVnews on Thursday. 

"What I'm afraid we can't do is end up in negotiationover hostages. What we can't do is say there's some kind of quid pro quo ortit-for-tat that goes on.

"This is not a situation that can be resolved byanything other than the unconditional release of all our people."

Stilted English

Iranhas shown the prisoners on television, and on Thursday distributed a secondletter purportedly from the only female captive, Faye Turney, confessing toentering Iranian waters.

Both letters were in stilted English, with unusual phrasesthat linguistic experts said appeared to have been translated from Farsi intoEnglish.

"Unfortunately during the course of our mission weentered into Iranian waters. Even through our wrongdoing, they have stilltreated us well and humanely, which I am and always will be eternallygrateful," Thursday's letter said.

It called for British forces to withdraw from Iraq.

Beckett's reaction

Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary, respondedin a statement: "We have not seen this letter but we have grave concernsabout the circumstances in which it was prepared and issued.

"This blatant attempt to use leading seaman Turney forpropaganda purposes is outrageous and cruel."

Iranhad said on Wednesday that it would free Turney soon. But on Thursday AlirezaAfshar, the Iranian military commander, said her release had been"suspended".

"The wrong behaviour of those who live in London caused the suspension," he said, adding that Britain must apologise for entering Iran's watersand promise it would not happen again.

Turkish mediation

Meanwhile, Iranian state television reported that RecepTayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, had urged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,the Iranian president, to allow Turkeyaccess to the seized troops and to free Turney.

The channel said Ahmadinejad would consider the Turkishrequest.

The Iranian president also reportedly accused Britain ofusing propaganda in the case rather than trying to solve it through diplomaticchannels.

Turkeymaintains good relations with Iran and the West.

Separately, the US saidon Thursday that two aircraft carrier groups were in the Gulf not toprovoke Tehranbut to reassure friendly governments in the area.

Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary of state, said intestimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "We are not there toprovoke any military conflict."



Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16