Iran's foreign minister said Britain must admit that its 15 sailors and marines entered Iranian waters in order to resolve a standoff over their capture by the Mideast nation.
Manouchehr Mottaki's statement on Wednesday in an interview with the agency came on a day of escalating tensions, highlighted by an Iranian video of the detained Britons that showed the only woman captive saying her group had "trespassed" in Iranian waters.
Britain angrily denounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with the Mideast nation.
The Iranian official also backed off a prediction that the female sailor, Faye Turney, could be freed yesterday or today, but said Tehran agreed to allow British officials to meet with the detainees.
Mottaki said that if the alleged entry into Iranian waters was a mistake "this can be solved. But they have to show that it was a mistake. That will help us to end this issue."
"Admitting the mistake will facilitate a solution to the problem," he said late last night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was attending an Arab summit.
It was the first time that Iran has publicly suggested a way to resolve the crisis, but British acquiescence appeared unlikely as the country has been insisting since the crisis began that its troops were in Iraqi waters and released a GPS readout yesterday to back up the claim.
Britain's military said the readout proved the Royal Navy personnel were seized 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters.
But in the interview, Mottaki said Iran had GPS devices from the British boats that showed they were in Iranian territory.