Iran urges Iraq to provide security at consulate in Basra

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The Iranian Foreign Ministry urged Iraqi authorities Thursday to take all necessary measures to provide security at the Iranian Consulate General in Basra.
TEHRAN, March 29 (RIA Novosti) - The Iranian Foreign Ministry urged Iraqi authorities Thursday to take all necessary measures to provide security at the Iranian Consulate General in Basra.

Earlier Thursday Iranian Consul Mohammed Ridha Nasir Bagban said that in the morning British soldiers had surrounded the consulate building and 20 minutes later gunfire had been heard. Bagban assumed that British soldiers, who are part of multinational forces stationed in Iraq, were protesting over the detention of 15 British sailors in Iran earlier this week.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Iran had expressed its protest to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and urged the country's authorities to take all necessary steps in line with international conventions to provide security for the staff of the Iranian Consulate General in Basra.

British Armed Forces chiefs denied any aggressive actions against the Iranian consulate adding that the gunfire could possibly have been heard from the other end of the street where British troops were engaged in a battle after getting caught in an ambush.

On March 23, the U.K. Defense Ministry announced that Iran had detained 15 Navy sailors and marines from HMS Cornwall in Iraqi territorial waters, which in accordance with a UN Security Council mandate under Resolution 1723 was inspecting ships in the Persian Gulf.

Following Britain's claims, the Iranian Embassy in London issued a statement in which it said the sailors and marines had been 0.5 kilometers (0.3 miles) inside Iranian waters at the time.

Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the Royal Navy of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters.

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