Sailors crisis: Blair says next two days are ”fairly critical”
The next two days are "fairly critical" to resolving the dispute over a seized British navy crew, British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated Tuesday. Blair told Scotland's Real Radio that Iranian official Ali Larijani's suggestion of talks offered hope of an end to the crisis. "If they want to resolve this in a diplomatic way the door is open," the British leader said.
But if negotiations to win the quick release of the 15 sailors and marines stalled, Britain would "take an increasingly tougher position," Blair said.
Iran has previously demanded an apology from Britain as a condition for the sailors' release.
Blair said Tuesday that Britain had two options in its approaches with Tehran. "One is to try settle this by way of peaceful and calm negotiation to get our people back as quickly as possible," he said. "The other is to make it clear that if that is not possible that we have to take an increasingly tougher position."
On Monday, Larijani said that Iran sought "to solve the problem through proper diplomatic channels" and proposed having a delegation determine whether British forces had strayed into Iranian territory in the Persian Gulf. He did not say what sort of delegation he had in mind.