Five Britons have been detained in Iran after their racing yacht may have inadvertently strayed into Iranian waters, the British foreign secretary, David Miliband, said yesterday. The yacht, en route from Bahrain to Dubai, was stopped by Iranian naval vessels on November 25, he said in a statement. The five crew members were still in Iran and were understood to be safe and well and their families had been informed, the statement added.
Foreign Office officials "immediately contacted the Iranian authorities in London and in Tehran on the evening of 25 November, both to seek clarification and to try and resolve the matter swiftly", Mr Miliband said. "Our ambassador in Tehran has raised the issue with the Iranian Foreign Ministry and we have discussed the matter with the Iranian embassy in London. "I hope this issue will soon be resolved. We will remain in close touch with the Iranian authorities, as well as the families."
The Volvo 60 class yacht, called Kingdom of Bahrain and owned by the Sail Bahrain project, launched by the Team Pindar sailing team, was due to have reached Dubai on November 26 to take part in a 360-mile Dubai-Muscat race, local media reported last week. Along with the rest of the race fleet, it was to have passed through the shallows of the Gulf into the Indian Ocean before arriving in the Omani capita,l Muscat.
Tension has dogged relations between Britain and Iran in recent years over a range of issues from Tehran's nuclear programme to Iranian allegations of British involvement in post-election violence in June this year. * Reuters