If I were the Iranian government or whoever is handling the hostage situation, I was saying the other day, I would announce that as a measure of special generosity and because Britain is celebrating an important religious festival this week and week-end (several important religious festivals, as it happens) we are relasing the hos .... I mean .... captured marines.
Neat, eh? If they do that, they will not have to acknowledge anything at all; they can express their sorrow at British and Western duplicity; they can probably win in the shame/honour competition; and they can defy anyone who dares to criticize them in the near future.
Maybe they were listening. President Ahmadinejad has just announced that he will order the release as soon as the press conference is over (which must have happened by now, unless his idea of press conferences equals that of Fidel Castro's).
He has also expressed his sorrow at Britain's perfidy and the ease with which Europe, correcting himself to European Union, thus showing that he knows more than many of our journalists and commentators, blamed Iran and pinned medals on three brave Iranian Coast Guards for their courage in capturing the British "invaders".
Of course, an announcement is not the deed. We shall be watching events as they unfold.