( UN ) - The Security Council called for an early resolution of the row over Iran's detention of 15 British marines and sailors, voicing grave concern at the situation and calling for their release, while Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the issue with Iran's Foreign Minister.
In a statement to the press read out by Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, Council members appealed to the Iranian Government to allow consular access to the naval personnel, who were captured by Revolutionary Guard members in the Persian Gulf last Friday.
Mr. Kumalo added that Council members supported calls for "an early resolution of this problem, including the release of the 15 UK personnel."
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was attending the Summit of the League of Arab States, Mr. Ban discussed the detention of the British sailors - as well as Iran's nuclear programme - during bilateral talks with the country's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motaki.
Mr. Ban "expressed his wish to see an early resolution," according to a read-out of the talks, and also urged Iran to comply in full with all Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1747, which was adopted by the 15-member panel last Saturday.
That resolution tightened existing sanctions on Iran, imposing a ban on arms sales and expanding the freeze on assets, in response to the country's uranium-enrichment activities, which Tehran says are for peaceful purposes but which other countries contend are driven by military ambitions.
The resolution also reaffirms that Iran must take the steps required by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, which has called for a full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities; and ratification and implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's (NPT) Additional Protocol granting the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.