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Australia welcomes the release of 15 UK naval personal.



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Media contact: Tony Parkinson (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 Angus Mackenzie (Departmental) 02 6261 1555 www.dfat.gov.au

MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA 039 5 April 2007

AUSTRALIA WELCOMES THE RELEASE OF 15 UK NAVAL PERSONNEL

I welcome Iran’s decision to release the 15 UK naval personnel it has been holding since 23 March. The sailors were detained while conducting a routine search of a merchant vessel in the waters between Iran and Iraq.

On 29 March I spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Mr Manouchehr Mottaki and expressed Australia’s deep concern at the ongoing detention of the personnel. I emphasised to Mr Mottaki that Australian defence force personnel serve in a similar area of the Gulf and that I shared UK concerns over the incident.

Australia appreciates, of course, that Iran and the United Kingdom do not agree on the location of the UK sailors at the time of their detention. I am pleased, however, that the matter has resolved through diplomacy.