British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday that "no deal" had been done to secure the return of 15 British sailors detained Iran.
"I want to make this very, very clear, without any deal, without any negotiation, without any side agreement of any nature whatever," Blair said in a press conference outside Downing Street as 15 sailors arrived back in the UK.
Blair insisted that Britain pursued a "dual track strategy" throughout the seizure dispute with Iran.
"Now in the end, yes it was a bilateral dialogue that resolved this, but I think the dual track of having international pressure mobilized and the door opened to that dialogue, without any deals, without any negotiation, I think it was the dual track that delivered this," said he.
"In my view it would be utterly naive to think that our personnel would have been released unless both elements of the strategy had been present," he added.
Blair said he was "glad" the sailors returned "safe and unharmed," but saddened by the deaths of 4 British soldiers, who were killed in a roadside bomb blast in southern Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday.
"Just as we rejoice at the return of our 15 service personnel, so today we are also grieving and mourning for the loss of our soldiers in Basra who were killed as a result of a terrorist act," Blair said.
There were "elements of the Iranian regime" that were "financing, arming and supporting terrorism in Iraq," said Blair.
On Thursday, 15 British sailors detained by Iran for nearly two weeks returned safely back to the UK, and reunited with their families.
After arriving at London's Heathrow Airport at midday, the personnel, eight from the Royal Navy and seven from the Royal Marines, then flew in two Royal Navy Sea King helicopters to Royal Marine Base Chivenor in Devon, southwest England, where they met their families. And after seeing their families, they will have medicals and undergo a debriefing.
The debrief would last for "hours, not days" depending on "what their needs are," according to a Royal Navy spokesman.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday afternoon announced that Iran will free the British sailors later that day.
The announcement came moments after the president honored the Iranian coast guards who intercepted the British "trespassers."
It is not clear what prompted Iran to release the sailors and whether it involved some kind of deal.
According to Sky News reports, the British government had made no deal with Iran to secure the personnel and was in dialogue, not negotiations, with Iranians. And Qatar and Syria had played useful roles in the release of British navy personnel.
On March 23, 15 British naval personnel were seized by Iranian forces when they were patrolling off the Iraqi borders. Iran has insisted that the British boats illegally entered its territorial waters, while Britain said its soldiers were in Iraqi territorial waters.