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Britain Calls for Peaceful, Quick Resolution to Crisis with Iran

Britain's foreign secretary says London wants the crisis over Tehran's seizure of 15 British naval personnel resolved peacefully and as soon as possible.

Speaking on the sidelines of a European Union summit in Germany Saturday, Margaret Beckett said Britain wants to be told where the sailors and marines are being held and given access to them.

In London, British officials say they have responded to a letter received from Iran Thursday concerning the incident. They did not reveal the contents of the letter, which is believed to be the first written communication between the two nations since the crisis began March 23.

Meanwhile, Iran's ambassador to Moscow has denied he said the British personnel could be placed on trial for entering Iranian waters. Gholam-Reza Ansari told Iran's official news agency that Tehran had begun a legal investigation into the incident, but his comments on Russian television Friday had been poorly translated.

Earlier reports quoted Ansari as saying it was possible the British personnel could be punished if convicted for illegally entering Iranian waters.

Britain says the naval personnel were in Iraqi waters when they were overwhelmed by a larger force from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Tehran says they illegally entered Iranian waters when they were picked up in the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq.

The United Nations Security Council has expressed "grave concern" about the detention, and called for an early resolution to the standoff.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.