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March 27, 2007

Blair Threatens A "Different Phase" In Hostage Crisis If Diplomacy Fails: More Diplomacy

A "different phase" defined at the moment as something less than "extreme diplomatic action, such as expelling Iranian diplomats" and does not of course mean military action.

Still it does seem to indicate the Brits are getting more serious, but still, as is their wont, reluctant to "escalate" things.

Efforts to secure the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel held by Iran will enter a "different phase" if diplomatic moves fail, Tony Blair has said.

Downing Street said the UK could end up releasing evidence proving the group had not ventured into Iranian waters.

...

The prime minister's official spokesman said Mr Blair's remarks about a "different phase" did not refer to any extreme diplomatic action, such as expelling Iranian diplomats from Britain or military action.

"We have been clearly stating that we are utterly certain that the personnel were in Iraqi waters.

"We so far have not made explicit why we know that, because we don't want to escalate this."

Britain's former ambassador to Iran, Sir Richard Dalton, said "different phase" could mean generating pressure on Iran from the international community.

"I expect he means that we shall have to step up criticism and generate additional international pressures on Iran," he said.

Yeah, that'll do the trick.

"It could be that they think that by dramatising the fact that these people were taken on an international mission while in Iraqi waters even further, will give Iran pause and give them a chance to rethink."

...

"These people have to be released," the prime minister told GMTV.

"What we are trying to do at the moment is to pursue this through the diplomatic channels and make the Iranian government understand these people have to be released and that there is absolutely no justification whatever for holding them.

"I hope we manage to get them to realise they have to release them. If not, then this will move into a different phase."

...

"In the end, it is a question really for the Iranian government as to whether they want to abide by international law or not," he said.

Tough call for the Iranians, that.

Although I'm being sarcastic, I don't think it's time for Blair to start threatening military action, and his cautious phrasing is probably for the best. And the Iranians will, I think, release the sailors and marines, having made their "point," whatever that is.


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posted by Ace at 01:03 PM

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