Iranian ambassador calls for goodwill

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Iran's ambassador to the UK called for goodwill from Britain to Tehran after the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Rasoul Movahedian said: "We played our part and we showed our goodwill. Now it is up to the British government to proceed in a positive way."

In an interview with the newspaper before the 15 sailors told press they had been "exploited" by their captors in Iran and kept in solitary confinement, Mr Movahedian said the incident could serve to promote diplomacy between the UK and Iran.

"We share in the British people’s happiness [of the sailors' release] and we believe it is the right time for the British government to affirm its willingness to establish sensible lines of communication with Iran."

The sailors – 14 men and one woman – were taken captive by Tehran for 13 days after they were seized by Iranian forces in waters close to the dividing line between territorial waters controlled by Iran and Iraq on March 23rd.

Tehran insists the crew were illegally in Iranian waters – a statement vehemently denied by the British government.

Yet Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unexpectedly announced that he would pardon the service personnel as a "gift" to the British people on Wednesday.

Mr Movahedian was also asked about Iran's controversial development of nuclear power, about which the ambassador stressed: "That’s the prime issue for Iran and I think that could help set a new basis for our future relations with western countries."

Iran failed to comply with the UN security council deadline to stop its uranium enrichment programme in February. Tehran has consistently denied that it is using its nuclear facilities for making weapons such as atomic bombs but for the peaceful production of nuclear energy.

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