Saturday, 16 January, 2016

Iran detains 10 US sailors after vessels stopped in the Persian Gulf

Iran detained 10 US sailors after two small patrol boats reportedly drifted into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf, US officials say.

They say the Riverine boats apparently developed mechanical problems and were taken to Iran’s Farsi Island.

Tehran says the crew and the boats “will be returned promptly”, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told the Associated Press news agency.

The sailors were “snooping” in Iranian waters, Iran’s Fars news agency says.

It says the sailors - nine men and a woman - were held by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Kerry ‘personally engaged’

“We lost contact with two small US naval craft en route from Kuwait to Bahrain,” a senior US administration official said.

Tuesday’s incident happened near Farsi Island in the middle of the Gulf.

The sailors are likely to be released on Wednesday morning, US officials said.

After the incident, US Secretary of State John Kerry immediately called Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to begin negotiations.

An unnamed official told the Associated Press that Mr Kerry “personally engaged with Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome”.

Mr Kerry and Mr Zarif developed a personal relationship throughout three years of negotiating a nuclear deal.

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