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Britain: British, Iranian Officials Make New Contact on 15 Captured Britons

British officials say Britain has had further contacts with Iran over the 15 naval personnel being detained by Tehran and that both sides share a desire for an early resolution of the issue.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said in a statement Tuesday that British officials spoke with senior Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani. Officials said Prime Minister Blair remains committed to resolving the issue through diplomacy.

Earlier, Mr. Blair said the next two days will be critical in securing the release of the 15 Britons. But British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett cautioned against expecting a swift resolution to the standoff.

Meanwhile, the Iranian news agency, Fars has published new photos of the 15 British sailors and marines. The photos showed them wearing track suits, seated in a group on a carpet, and smiling.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to hold a news conference on Wednesday to discuss what state media are calling the illegal entry of British forces into Iranian waters.

Britain insists the sailors and marines were in Iraq's waters.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.