AFP: French presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday condemned the seizure by Iran of 15 British sailors but said military action would not help resolve the standoff that he described as “dangerous.” PARIS, April 2, 2007 (AFP) – French presidential frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday condemned the seizure by Iran of 15 British sailors but said military action would not help resolve the standoff that he described as “dangerous.”
“Detaining the British sailors as prisoners is inadmissible and I condemn it in the strongest terms,” Sarkozy told a news conference in Paris.
“But I do not think that a strike on Iran would help in the least bit a situation that is already very complex and very dangerous,” he said.
Tehran has so far refused to bow to pressure to free the 15 sailors and marines, who are were captured on March 23 during what Britain said was a routine anti-smuggling patrol in Iraqi waters, under UN mandate.
Iran insists they illegally entered its territorial waters and on Monday declared that all 15 detainees had confessed to the wrongdoing on videotape.
“All of the information at our disposal shows that the British sailors were not in Iranian waters,” said Sarkozy, the candidate of the governing party.
Expressing his “total solidarity” with Britain, Sarkozy called on Iran to fulfill its obligations under diplomatic conventions and allow consular officials to visit the British detainees.
Sarkozy’s main rival, Socialist Segolene Royal, on Sunday said that she supported resorting to EU sanctions against Iran if it continues to detain the 14 men and one woman.
Royal described the 15 British naval personnel as “hostages”, saying: “We must be very, very firm to win the immediate release of these hostages.”
Sarkozy and Royal are leading the pack of 12 candidates running for the presidency in the April 22 vote. A runoff is scheduled for May 6 as none of the candidates are expected to win an outright majority in the first round.