The Bush administration says it played no part in winning freedom for the 15 British naval hostages from Iran and strongly criticized Tehran for using hostage taking as a tool of international diplomacy.
A White House spokesman said President Bush welcomed the hostages' homecoming Thursday in a video-teleconference with Prime Minister Tony Blair. The spokesman said Mr. Bush commended Britain on a peaceful end to the hostage situation.
The 14 men and one woman were reunited with their families Thursday in London. A Royal Marines spokesman read a statement from the former captives who called their two weeks as hostages very difficult. They called their arrival in London a "dream come true."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he freed the hostages Wednesday as an Easter present to the British people.
Prime Minister Blair said Britain won their freedom without making any deals or apologies to Iran.
Iran accused the 15 of sailing into its territorial waters -- a charge Britain denies.
Mr. Blair said new and interesting lines of communication with Iran have opened. He said if Iran wants, it can have a different relationship with Britain.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.