Monday, June 21, 2004

# Posted 8:47 AM by Patrick Belton  

MAJOR DIPLOMATIC INCIDENT UNFOLDING: Iran has seized three vessels of the Royal Navy which were patrolling the Shatt al-Arab, and have seized eight British sailors. The Ministry of Defence has stated that the ships were involved in helping the Iraqi police patrol the area.

UPDATE: The NYT has more - the MOD has described the three boats as 'inflatable' and indicated their crew were in the process of delivering them to Iraq. Separately, the British Embassy in Tehran released a statement that three training patrol boats had lost radio contact with their base.

UPDATE: The BBC is quoting Iranian Al Alam TV that the Iranian government is intending to prosecute the eight sailors, for illegally entering its (disputed) territorial waters. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw held a telephone conversation this morning with Iranian FM Kamal Kharazzi to discuss the matter, but there is no report on how the conversation proceeded. The matter is also receiving suprisingly little press attention.
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