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EU vows tough response after British embassy arrests in Tehran

Video by Yuka ROYER


Latest update : 2009-06-29

EU nations vowed to respond forcefully to interference with diplomatic staff after the arrest of eight local staff of the British embassy in Tehran. Foreign Secretary David Milliband (pictured) called the arrests "harassment and intimidation".

AFP - EU nations vowed Sunday to respond to any harassment of diplomats in Iran with a "strong and collective response," Britain's foreign secretary said after the arrest of British embassy staff.
"Harassment and intimidation of diplomatic staff of European countries will be met with a strong and collective response," David Milliband told reporters, after eight British embassy staff in Tehran were arrested by Iranian authorities.
"It's very important that all countries adhere to diplomatic norms," he said, while thanking his EU partners for their "unanimous condemnation" of the actions in Tehran.
"There was ... a unanimous view that the European Union would act with solidarity and common commitment in the face of harassment and intimidation," he said.
The condemnation came at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on the Greek island of Corfu.
The arrests, part of a backlash against what Iranian leaders call foreign "meddling," came as opposition leaders again defied the regime, rejecting a panel for a partial recount in the hotly disputed presidential vote.
Iran has repeatedly accused Britain and the United States of stoking the unrest that swept the country after the June 12 election, which returned hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
Opposition campaigners say the vote was rigged.
Miliband could not provide details about the arrests -- which he said had numbered nine -- but said he was in contact with the Iranian foreign ministry and urged them to work on the release of the diplomats.
"As of this morning I know that four have been released, I am still waiting for further confirmation of whether any more have been released in the last two hours," he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt underlined that the ministers from the 27-nation bloc had not discussed any possible sanctions in their informal talks here, and would not be drawn on what response the EU might have.
"We need to take the situation day by day and assess it. This is a dynamic and ongoing situation. I don't think you should tie yourself to a mast particularly," he said.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reiterated a call for visas from the 25-nation Schengen no borders area to be issued to Iranian opposition figures who might need them, but no decisions were taken.

Date created : 2009-06-28