Britain meets Iran ambassador over seized sailors

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain held an hour-long meeting with Iran’s ambassador in London on Saturday to demand the immediate release of 15 British naval personnel seized by Iranian forces in the northern Gulf.

A spokeswoman for the foreign office described the meeting between Foreign Office Minister David Triesman and Iranian Ambassador Rasoul Movahedian as “frank but friendly”.

“We are not going into intimate details of the discussion. But Lord Triesman reiterated our demand that the group be released immediately along with their equipment,” she said.

“He also inquired about welfare issues, consular access and location of the group,” she added, noting the ambassador neither confirmed nor denied reports the 15 have been moved to Tehran.

It was the second meeting between British officials and Iranian diplomats in London since the seizure on Friday.

Iranian forces arrested the 15 British sailors and marines in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab, the waterway that separates Iran and Iraq, triggering a diplomatic crisis at a time of heightened tension over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Britain said they were detained in Iraqi waters, while Iran maintains they had strayed into Iranian waters.