Source AP ©

Foreign minister of Germany: Iran must calm tensions over seized British soldiers

Germany's foreign minister appealed to Iran to ease tensions over its seizure of 15 British military personnel and condemned Tehran's decision to show some of the captives on television, according to comments released Saturday.

"The 15 soldiers must be freed; British diplomats must immediately be able to speak with those arrested," Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote in a guest article for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, released on Saturday by the weekly.

"If the leadership in Tehran thinks that anyone views this action as a demonstration of strength, it is mistaken," Steinmeier wrote, according to Bild am Sonntag. "I appeal to the leadership in Tehran to defuse the tense situation. There must not be a further intensification."

Germany currently holds the EU presidency. In Saturday's article, Steinmeier condemned both the seizure of the military personnel and Iran's showing on television of some of the captives.

He wrote that "this provocation clearly contravenes all international rules and is completely unacceptable," Bild am Sonntag reported.

Meeting in Bremen, foreign ministers of the 27-nation EU demanded on Friday that Iran immediately and unconditionally release the 15 British sailors and marines and warned of undefined "appropriate measures" if it does not comply.

Steinmeier wrote that Germany and the EU stand "firmly by the side of Great Britain."

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