Update on January 13 at 12:40 p.m. ET
U.S. and Iranian officials are hailing the diplomacy that resulted in the release by Iran of 10 Navy sailors and their two boats that inadvertently strayed into Iranian waters.
“I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter,” John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, said in a statement. “That this issue was resolved peacefully and efficiently is a testament to the critical role diplomacy plays in keeping our country safe, secure, and strong.”
Mohammed Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart, tweeted:
Happy to see dialog and respect, not threats and impetuousness, swiftly resolved the #sailors episode. Let’s learn from this latest example.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 13, 2016
Earlier Wednesday, Iranian and U.S. officials announced that Iran had freed the sailors and their vessels, which had been en route Tuesday to Kuwait from Bahrain on a routine exercise. A senior defense official said contact was lost with the boats Tuesday. Iran said they were detained and held at a base on Farsi Island.
A statement from Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said “technical and operational examinations” of the vessels showed they had inadvertently entered Iranian waters and were released into international waters after an apology. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the IRGC Navy, said earlier Wednesday the U.S. vessels had developed technical problems with their navigation systems. (You can watch them being released here, courtesy of the AP.)