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UN 'Concerned' At Iran's Detention Of British Sailors

Faye Turney on Iranian state TV on March 28 (epa) March 30, 2007 -- The UN Security Council has agreed on a statement expressing "grave concern" at Iran's detention of 15 British sailors and marines.

The statement approved on March 29 also urged Tehran to allow "consular access" to the Britons, who were captured on March 23.

Britain wanted a stronger statement, but Russia opposed it. British UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry denied the weaker statement was a "failure."

"No, I don't think we failed," he said. "What is clear [is that] everyone in the council knows that these individuals were part of the multinational force, which is mandated actually by two Security Council resolutions, and I read those out to my colleagues in the council."

Iran said the Security Council statement was "not helpful."

Britain says its personnel were seized in Iraqi waters and has published what it says is proof from global-positioning-system data. But Iran says its data shows the British forces were in its waters when they were arrested.

Earlier on March 29, Tehran released a second letter purportedly from the only female captive. In the letter, Faye Turney confesses to entering Iranian waters and questions why British forces are still in Iraq. London labelled the letter's release "outrageous and cruel."

Iran had promised on March 28 it would free Turney soon. But on March 29 Iranian military commander Alireza Afshar said her release had been "suspended."

Later the same day, Iranian state television reported that President Mahmud Ahmadinejad would consider a Turkish request to free Turney.

Meanwhile today, Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television said it would broadcast footage of what it called a "confession" by one of the detained Britons.

(Reuters, AP, AFP)