x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Britain awaits Iran word on sailors

Britain has "no confrontation" with Iran over five British sailors seized by the Iranian navy in the Gulf, the foreign secretary David Miliband said today.

Britain has "no confrontation" with Iran over five British sailors seized by the Iranian navy in the Gulf, the foreign secretary David Miliband said today, 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."

Mr 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 today. 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 about two weeks, but only after a tense diplomatic standoff between London and Tehran.

But Mr 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." *AFP