Blair Warns Iran Standoff Could Escalate

My Way News – Blair Warns Iran Standoff Could Escalate

LONDON (AP) – Prime Minister Tony Blair warned Tuesday that his government could make public evidence that a British navy crew was in Iraqi waters when it was captured by Iran, saying he was prepared to take the standoff to a “different phase” if diplomacy fails to win their release.

Iran said the 15 British sailors and marines were being treated well, but refused to say where they were being held, or rule out the possibility that they could be brought to trial for allegedly entering Iranian waters.

“I hope we manage to get them to realize they have to release them,” Blair said in an interview with GMTV. “If not, then this will move into a different phase.”

Blair’s spokesman said the prime minister was not hinting either at the possible expulsion of Iranian diplomats or military action, but that Britain may have to make public evidence proving the Britons were seized in Iraqi – not Iranian – waters, if there is no swift release of the sailors.

(AP) Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini, speaks to The Associated Press in an…
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Releasing such evidence could have “an upside and a downside” because it could show the Iranian ships strayed into Iraqi territory and provoke a diplomatic row between the neighbors, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Britain and the United States have said the sailors and marines were intercepted Friday after they completed a search of a civilian vessel in the Iraqi part of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, where the border between Iran and Iraq has been disputed for centuries.

There were fears in Britain that the fate of the 15 could get caught up in the political tensions between Iran and the West, including the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and accusations of Iranian help to Shiite militants in Iraq.

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