Blair says "no negotiation" with Iran
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will not negotiate a "tit-for-tat" deal to secure the release of sailors and marines held in Iran, Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday.
"What I'm afraid we can't do is end up in negotiation over hostages. What we can't do is say there's some kind of quid pro quo or tit-for-tat that goes on," Blair told ITV news. "That's not acceptable."
He said Britain wanted to make clear pressure on Iran would be "stepped up bit by bit by bit" until the sailors were freed.
"This is not a situation that can be resolved by anything other than the unconditional release of all our people."
Britain says Iranian gunboats seized its service members last week from Iraqi waters. Iran says the Britons entered its territory.
The standoff has become increasingly acrimonious since Wednesday after London presented what it said was proof from satellite data that the incident took place in Iraqi waters, and Tehran put the captured sailors on television.
"Obviously I felt the same way most people do, which is a sense of disgust that people would be used in that way," Blair said of their treatment.
Britain has frozen business ties with Iran and hopes to persuade European Union foreign ministers to do the same across the 27-member bloc at a meeting on Friday.
It is also aiming to persuade the U.N. Security Council to issue a statement calling for Iran to free the personnel.
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