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British Navy Resuming Ship Boardings In Persian Gulf

LONDON (AP) _ Britain's Royal Navy will resume boarding ships in the Persian Gulf, after suspending the operations when 15 sailors and marines were taken prisoner by Iran, the defense secretary said Tuesday.

In his statement to the House of Commons, Defense Secretary Des Brown said inquiries into the detention of the British crew were continuing but that the military had ``taken measures, in line with the findings of the initial reviews of procedures, to ensure the risk to boarding operations is minimized.''

``This will involve an incremental return to full boarding operations in all areas,'' he said.

The British sailors and marines had just finished searching a merchant ship on March 23 when they and their two inflatable boats were intercepted by Iranian vessels near the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway at the Iraqi border. They were released after nearly two weeks in captivity.

Iran claimed the British strayed into its territorial waters; Britain and Iraq say the waters were in Iraqi territory.
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