The British sailors continue to attract attention, more so than the Brits want. But there seems to be some progress:
TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian state radio reported that all 15 British sailors and marines held captive by Iran have confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters but, in an apparent softening in the dispute, said their statements would not air because of “positive changes” from Britain.
Apparently the bilateral negotiations between Iran and Britain weren’t generating enough hate, so two famous American big mouths have been flapping their gums in an attempt to push Mr. Abrams’ ISOG agenda:
LONDON — The Iranian prisoner crisis revealed a widening schism between Britain and the United States Sunday as U.S. leaders called for tough action and British officials confirmed that they are trying to free their 15 imprisoned sailors by quietly reaching a compromise with Tehran.
British officials believe that Iran is not seeking a prisoner exchange or other further bounty in exchange for the sailors, who have been imprisoned for 10 days, and they are hoping the crisis can be resolved peacefully in the next few days.
“We are anxious that this matter be resolved as quickly as possible, and that it be resolved by diplomatic means, and we are bending every single effort to that. … We are in direct bilateral communication with the Iranians,” British Defence Minister Des Browne told reporters Sunday.
But Britain’s delicate diplomatic efforts were set back by U.S. President George W. Bush, who made a statement Saturday in which he characterized the imprisoned sailors as “hostages” — a phrase that Britain has been carefully avoiding to prevent the crisis from becoming a broader political or military conflict.
“The British hostages issue is a serious issue because the Iranians took these people out of Iraqi waters, and it’s inexcusable behaviour,” Mr. Bush said in response to a reporter’s question during a press conference at the Camp David retreat.
He had reportedly promised not to raise the issue of the sailors, as British officials worry that the entry of the United States into this crisis could cause it to escalate into an irreconcilable confrontation.
Other U.S. officials have been even less amenable to the British approach. John Bolton, who until recently was Mr. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, has appeared on British TV describing the British approach as “pathetic.”
Mr. Bush stressed that the United States would not turn over Iranian officials it had arrested in Iraq earlier this year on accusations that they were supporting insurgents, saying he supported Prime Minister Tony Blair’s view that “there were no quid pro quos. The Iranians must give back the hostages. They’re innocent, they were doing nothing, and they were summarily plucked out of water.”
But British officials say that a prisoner exchange has never been offered or suggested by Iran, and that Mr. Bush’s words could cause harm by putting the Iranians in a position from which they cannot back down if it becomes a major confrontation with their long-time enemy, the United States.
British negotiators believe the Iranians have already won all the rewards they have been seeking — mainly by using several of the hostages for propaganda purposes by broadcasting videos and letters in which they admit, possibly under duress, to trespassing on Iranian territory and demand that their government withdraw from Iraq.
Meanwhile, the only person whose opinion matters has yet to tell us what will really happen:
Ayatollah Khamenei has not yet spoken publicly on this crisis, and there are some observers in Iran who believe that he has abandoned his support for Mr. Ahmadinejad over the way the President’s radically anti-Western gestures have distanced Iran from the rest of the world and damaged the economy.
Gold and oil prices are dropping. No further word on the story that the US violated Iranian airspace.
UPDATE: To choose the lucky man to shovel out today’s dose of Iran-hate, Abrams spun the big wheel and it landed on the vapid Kit Bond, who duly went forth and recited to Wolf Blitzer what came to him on his fax machine from ISOG:
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) appears on CNN’s ‘Late Edition’ advocating a change of leadership in Iran, suggesting that the use of military force may be the only way to bring about the fall of Iran’s ruling class.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there is any other option other than regime change,” says Bond. “I would hope that other nations would be willing to join with the [United Nations] Security Council and start employing escalating sanctions on Iran to force them to change their way with nuclear weapons, or even to bring about a regime change in Iran.”
Another guest, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), criticizes hints of military force during a time of sensitive diplomatic negations for the safe return of 15 British sailors that have been detained by Iran. “Cooler heads have to prevail,” she says. link