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Bush and Blair Adminstrations possibly appease Iran with quid pro quo exchange

jasendorf

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http://mwcnews.net/content/view/13690/231/

Blair denies Iran 'deal'

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has said that the release of 15 Navy personnel held by Iran since March 23 was secured "without any deal".

The British leader made the remarks on Thursday just after a plane carrying the 15 from Iran landed at Heathrow airport in London.

They were freed "without any deal, without any negotiation, without any side agreement of any nature," Blair said, making a statement outside his London office.

On Wednesday, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, said the 15 were to be 'pardoned' and released.

"Under the influence of the Muslim Prophet, [Iran] forgives these 15 people and gives their freedom to the British people as a gift," Ahmadinejad told a news conference on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad also told the news conference that Britain was not "brave enough" to admit it had made a mistake in the standoff, which began when Tehran seized the 15 in the Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iraq and Iran on March 23.

The 15 were again shown on Iranian television before their departure, celebrating and again apologising for entering Iranian waters.

Their release coincides with the release in Baghdad of an Iranian diplomat seized in early February.

Iran had blamed US forces for the abduction but the US denied involvement.

Iranian state media also said five Iranian officials captured by US forces in northern Iraq in January were expected to receive their first visit by an Iranian diplomat soon.

British welcome

The 15 British personnel, seized by Iran on March 23, have been held for 13 days.

How the diplomatic standoff unfolded

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, welcomed the decision to free the personnel and thanked allies in Europe, the UN Security Council and the Middle East for their help.

He said Britain had taken "a measured approach, firm but calm, not negotiating but not confronting either" in the negotiations.

Blair also said the situation had opened up "new and interesting" lines of communication between Britain and Iran.

Iran is also presenting the release of the personnel as a diplomatic victory.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister and now advisor to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, said Iran had achieved its objectives in the crisis.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran showed that it will defend its territorial integrity and has no fear," he said.

The decision to release the detainees came after Iran acknowledged a "change of tone" from Britain following talks between Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, and Nigel Sheinwald, Blair's chief foreign policy adviser, late on Tuesday.

Iran had insisted that they key to resolving the crisis was an admission from Britain that the sailors and marines did intrude into Iranian territorial waters when they were seized.

Britain maintains the group was carrying out routine anti-smuggling operations in Iraqi waters in line with a UN mandate, but Iran says the sailors' Global Positioning System (GPS) devices show they intruded into Iranian waters.

Who wants a bet that the Bush Administration releases the five Iranians being held now within a month?
 

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