British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said a letter from Iran on the detention of 15 British sailors and marines had done nothing to bring the standoff over their capture to a close.
"There is nothing in the letter to suggest that the Iranians are looking for a way out," Beckett said in a BBC interview in which she also accused Tehran of using the detained British service members for "blatant propaganda" purposes.
"It is quite appalling and it is completely contrary to normal international convention to use people who are detained against their will, who have been detained for days now, to whom consular access is denied ... to use them for blatant propaganda in this way. I am quite horrified," Beckett said, according to a transcript of the interview.
EU ministers at the meeting have vowed solidarity with Britain in pressing Iran to free the military personnel, but some among the diplomats have warned against escalating the dispute by prematurely blocking relations with Iran.