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Pattaya Daily News

05 April 2007 :: 14:04:53 pm 30994

Captured British Naval Personnel Freed

"It is brilliant news. I am very happy with it," Sky News reported as the gleeful response to the news of Iran’s “gift to the British people”, the imminent release of the captured Royal Navy and marine personnel, by Nick Summers, brother of one of the UK captives Nathan Summers, on Wednesday.
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Whereas Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, greeted the announcement of the captives’ impending freedom with “To the Iranian people I would simply say this: we bear you no ill-will. On the contrary, we respect Iran as an ancient civilisation with a proud and dignified history. And the disagreements we have with your Government we wish to resolve peacefully, through dialogue.” The Times reported, further commenting that the crisis “ended yesterday with bizarre scenes of political and sartorial theatre.”

The captives were ferried to a British Mediterranean Airways aircraft which was due to touch down at London’s Heathrow at 1105 GMT, Thursday, from where they will be transferred to a Royal Air Force base in South-western England and debriefed.

Informed opinion apparently saw the freeing of the British hostages as step-down by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered with theatrical aplomb by President Ahmadinejad, in an attempt to deflect further global opprobrium and to ameliorate Iran’s already alienated position on the world stage.

The original capture of the 15 members of the British naval crew, with as many as 5 Iranian naval craft involved in the “ambush”, has been mooted by some as a carefully staged event to gain negotiating “brownie points” in any future showdown on the larger controversy – the Iranian nuclear issue. Others saw it as an attempt to gain bargaining chips to play off against the detention of members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard by the US in Iraq. The latter, to no avail.

Despite the British official denial, supported by GPS fixes and maps that the crew had not strayed into Iranian territorial waters from their routine patrol intercepting potential smugglers in the Persian Gulf, the Iranians remained intransigent until the 13th day of their captivity. The 13th day certainly proved lucky for some as the incident, which had previously involved parading certain members of the British naval crew before Iranian TV cameras, and their “confession” of trespassing in Iran’s territorial waters to the finale of the besuited crew being presented to President Ahmadinejad in a scene reminiscent of an FA Cup Victory parade. Though quite whose victory it was remains a moot point!

Thus ended a two-week standoff that significantly increased international tension and rattled financial markets, but thankfully not sabres.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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