TEHRAN: Iran and Britain stepped up the pressure over 15 Royal Navy detainees on Sunday, with state TV saying that the foreign ministry had protested their "illegal" incursion to the UK ambassador and PM Tony Blair warning that he regarded the matter as "very serious."

In fact, Blair accused Iran on Sunday of seizing British naval personnel in Iraqi waters and said that Tehran must understand its action was "unjustified and wrong".

Britain and the EU have demanded that Iran release the British sailors seized at gunpoint on Friday by the Iranian navy after they had searched a civilian vessel in the Iraqi part of the Shatt al Arab waterway.

Iran says the sailors were trespassing in a "blatant aggression."

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