British authorities are continuing to try to secure the release of five sailors detained by the Iranian navy while sailing from Bahrain to Dubai.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said talks with the Iranians are underway: “Our contacts with the Iranian authorities suggest that this is being dealt with in a professional and appropriate way. This is a consular case, which involves five young people and we certainly see it as being treated as such. We are keen that this is resolved as soon as possible. The crew members aboard “Kingdom of Bahrain” were preparing to take part in the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race, when they strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters. There are reports that the yacht suffered a propeller failure compounded by light winds. The seizure of the men comes against a backdrop of difficult diplomatic relations between the US, the EU and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iranian officials say they are investigating the reports. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said: “Regarding this issue, we are looking into it and as soon as it becomes clear we will announce whether it is correct or incorrect.” It is not the first incident of its kind. In March 2007, Iranian forces took eight British sailors and seven marines into custody, after picking them up for violating Iranian waters. They were released after 13 days.