Iran General NewsUN chief: 'Tone down rhetoric' in Iran-Britain crisis

UN chief: ‘Tone down rhetoric’ in Iran-Britain crisis

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AFP: UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the release of 15 British naval personnel 10 days after Iran seized them in the Gulf and said “rhetoric should be toned down.” UNITED NATIONS, April 2, 2007 (AFP) – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the release of 15 British naval personnel 10 days after Iran seized them in the Gulf and said “rhetoric should be toned down.”

Ban told reporters he had warned Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki against any escalation of the crisis, which was sparked after the sailors and marines were captured March 23 in what Iran says were its territorial waters.

“I requested and appealed to him that this issue should be resolved as soon as possible through political, diplomatic consultations,” Ban said.

“At the same time, I would hope that this rhetoric should be toned down. It is not desirable in helping resolve this issue… I would again hope that we would be able to see some early release of these UK sailors.”

The UN chief said he could not discuss the particulars of where the naval personnel were captured, and that he did not bring up the issue of five Iranians who were arrested in January by US forces in Iraq, calling it “a separate issue.”

US President George W. Bush has refused suggestions that a trade could be negotiated and expressed his support for Britain, which maintains the sailors and marines were carrying out routine anti-smuggling operations in Iraqi waters.

Ban also said that Iran was going through a “politically sensitive period” due to the imposition of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.

Therefore, Ban said of his conversation with the Iranian ambassador, “It would be desirable for the international community not to see an escalation of a situation in that region, and for that I appealed to him to consider favorably to first engage in dialogue with the UK and release the sailors.”

Britain and Iran have said they favor a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Iran on Monday broadcast new pictures of two of the sailors and said all 15 had confessed to illegally entering its waters at the time they were seized on March 23.

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