- Title: VARIOUS: Iran waits for new British stance on captives
- Date: 1st April 2007
- Summary: (BN10)JERUSALEM (APRIL 1, 2007) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE)(German) ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR, SAYING: "Ultimately, the capture of the fifteen British soldiers highlights, yet again, who we are dealing with. And that's why I say again that, in this situation, Great Britain has the full solidarity of the European Union. We demand the immediate release of the fifteen British soldiers." GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL ADDRESSING NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE)(German) ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR, SAYING: "The (UN) resolution shows the leadership in Tehran that the international community does not accept the continuance of their nuclear programme. The use of Iran's nuclear programme to fulfil military objectives must be prevented. Iran must abide by international law." GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL ADDRESSING NEWS CONFERENCE
- Reuters ID: LVA4ZR022QRJKLWO52NQU36YB0H1
- Duration: 00:00:50
- Topics: International Relations,Defence / Military
- Story Text: Iran has ignored growing international pressure to release 15 British sailors and marines, saying London should change its behaviour over the nine-day-old stand-off.
Iran captured the 15 Britons on March 23, accusing them of illegally entering the Islamic Republic's territorial waters. Britain says the sailors were seized in Iraqi waters.
Their capture has prompted international criticism of Iran, with U.S. President George W. Bush calling the detention inexcusable and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, now holder of the European Union presidency, demanding the sailors' release.
"Ultimately, the capture of the fifteen British soldiers highlights, yet again, who we are dealing with. And that's why I say again that, in this situation, Great Britain has the full solidarity of the European Union," she said during a speech in Jerusalem on Sunday (April 1).
"We demand the immediate release of the fifteen British soldiers," she added.
The row, at a time of heightened Middle East tensions over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, pushed oil prices last week to a six-month high. The West accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying on state television: "Iran is waiting for a change of behaviour by Britain and a balanced stance by this country over our legal demands."
Mottaki said Iran was studying a written message sent by British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett that replied to an earlier Iranian diplomatic note on the detentions.
He did not outline the Islamic Republic's demands but, in a speech on Saturday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Britain should have apologised. He has also accused London of not following "the legal or logical way" in the dispute.
Adding to the tense atmosphere, Iran sent a letter to the British embassy in Tehran complaining about a shooting by British troops near its consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra, Iran's ISNA news agency reported.
Iran said it was a provocative act but Britain denied any aggressive action and said the shooting on Thursday (March 29) came from a British convoy that was ambushed in the same street.
British forces have been deployed in southern Iraq since joining the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003. Britain and the United States accuse Iran of allowing sophisticated weapons used to target their forces to be brought into Iraq.
The United States has sent two carriers to the Gulf but said they are not there to provoke a conflict with Iran.
The calls follow a UN Security Council statement last week expressing "grave concern" and calling "for an early resolution of this problem, including the release of the 15 personnel".
Iran has urged the EU to stay out of the case and accused Britain of stirring up the crisis by raising the issue of the detentions at the United Nations, which has passed two sanctions resolutions on Iran since December over its nuclear programme.
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