Blair Warns of "New Phase" of "New Talks" to Resolve Hostage Crisis
It sounds like Tony Blair lost his mojo on this one…
Bloomberg.com reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair warns that the hostage crisis may move into a new phase if the current talks fail:
U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said that efforts to release 15 British sailors and Marines seized by Iran will enter a “different phase” if negotiations fail.
The U.K. is using diplomatic channels to make the Iranian government understand that the eight Royal Navy sailors and seven Royal Marines “have to be released,” Blair said today in an interview with the U.K. television show GMTV.
Blair’s spokesman Tom Kelly later told reporters that a “different phase” didn’t mean military action or expelling diplomats and that Blair would prefer the matter to be resolved “quietly and privately.”
“We have been clearly stating that we are utterly certain that the personnel were in Iraqi waters,” Kelly said. “We so far haven’t made explicit why we know that because we don’t want to escalate this. We may get to the stage where we will become more explicit.”
Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, demanded the release of the 15 British hostages and insisted that they were seized in Iraqi waters, not Iranian waters as maintained by Tehran.
Iranian Al-Alam TV Says British Sailors ‘Being Interrogated’
Originally published on 3/26/2007 by Al-Alam Television in Arabic
Tehran Al-Alam Television in Arabic at 1403 GMT on 26 March reported that the 15 British naval personnel held by Iran were currently being interrogated and were required to provide clarification as to the reason behind their violation of the Iranian territorial waters.
Al-Alam TV quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Mostafavi as saying that the sailors were in good health and that the case was taking its legal course and the personnel in question were required to clarify whether they had entered the Iranian waters deliberately or by mistake.
Mostafavi said that a decision was to be reached once the issue had been clarified.
OSC London Bureau will file further as available.
Meanwhile… Great Britain sold the first new Western-made aircraft to Tehran this week since the 1979 Islamic revolution(?)
The Opinion Journal discusses Iran’s act of war.