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Britain Asks UN to Condemn Iran for Capture of British Sailors

29 March 2007

Britain's Foreign Office says it is seeking a statement from the United Nations condemning Iran's capture of 15 British sailors in the northern Persian Gulf last Friday.

Britain is asking the U.N. Security Council for a statement deploring Iran's detention of the sailors.

Meanwhile, a top Iranian official, Ali Larijani, says the release of the only female sailor in the group, Faye Turney, will be delayed if Tehran is faced with the "wrong behavior" from Britain.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the issue with Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Riyadh Thursday, on the sidelines of an Arab summit.

Mottaki has said the standoff could be resolved if Britain admits the sailors were in Iranian waters when they were seized. Britain maintains that satellite positioning information shows the sailors were in Iraqi waters.

The Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra accused British forces of briefly surrounding the building Thursday, in what it called, "a provocative act."

The British military said its soldiers briefly exchanged fire with gunmen while on a routine patrol in the vicinity and that "there was no encirclement" of the consulate building.

On Wednesday, Britain froze "official bilateral business" with Iran, except efforts to gain release of its naval personnel.

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.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the incident with U.S. President George Bush in a videoconference on Wednesday. The White House said Mr. Bush fully backs Mr. Blair.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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