The UN’s new Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has stepped into the stand-off between Britain and Iran. He met with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to resolve the crisis over Iran’s capture of 15 British military personnel.
Iran alleges they were illegally in its territorial waters. Britain denies this. The men, and one woman, were seized last week, and are now at the centre of a diplomatic row that is pushing up oil prices and raising tension. Britain froze all business ties with Iran yesterday.
London insists the unit was on a regular patrol on the Iran-Iraq border, exercising a UN mandate. In 2004 eight soldiers were captured in Iranian waters nearby, held for three days and subjected to mock executions before being released.