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London says 'no confrontation' over detained sailors

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-12-01

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said there was "no confrontation or argument" with Iran over a case of five Britons arrested off the coast of the Islamic Republic. Iran said earlier that it was examining the case.

AFP - Britain has "no confrontation" with Iran over five British sailors seized by the Iranian navy in the Gulf, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday, adding that it was "purely a consular matter."

"There is certainly no confrontation or argument," he told BBC radio, a day after London went public about the seizure last week, adding: "This is a purely consular matter, and we look forward to it being treated as such."

Miliband said: "As far as we're aware these people are being well-treated, which is right and what we would expect from a country like Iran."

He said he expected the Iranian foreign ministry to make a statement later Tuesday.

Britain's Foreign Office has said the yachtsmen may have strayed into Iranian waters as they sailed a 60-foot Volvo racing yacht from Bahrain to Dubai.

The incident echoed memories of the capture of 15 British navy personnel by Iran in 2007. They were released after around two weeks, but only after a tense diplomatic standoff between London and Tehran.

But Miliband stressed that the latest incident was different.

"It is important to say that these are civilians, not Royal Naval personnel," he said.

"These are five civilians, they are yachtsmen, they were going about their sport and it seems they may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters."

Date created : 2009-12-01

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