Odd item from The Times Online. Obviously the Iranians want to cool any tension between the UK and Iran with this perfectly reasonable request to bury soldiers killed in a war some thousands of miles from the UK....... Martyrs' memorial row raises tension with Iran By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor BRITAIN and Iran were yesterday caught in another potentially bruising diplomatic tangle after Tehran said it had been refused permission to send the remains of Iranian war dead to London to create an unknown martyrs memorial at its embassy in South Kensington. The countrys powerful Sacred Defence Preservation Foundation said that it had asked permission to send bodies of soldiers killed in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict to Britain. The dead would be the centrepiece of a war memorial open to Iranian expatriates in London. Iranians across Europe told us that they wanted to commemorate those who defended Iran and they wanted a place to go on Sundays, said Daoud Ghiasirad, a spokesman for the foundation. But the British refused. He said that it was unfair because thousands of British and Commonwealth dead are buried or commemorated in the sprawling grounds of the British Embassy in Tehran. We have every right to do the same under international law and customs, Mr Ghiasirad said. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office insisted yesterday that it had not been approached over the matter, either in London or in Tehran. We have not received a formal request, it said. If we were to receive such a request, we would forward it to the relevant authorities and ensure that it is looked at properly. Privately, sources at the Foreign Office were stunned by the reported request. They said that asking for the remains of fighters killed in a war between two countries thousands of miles away to be sent for burial in London, more than a decade after hostilities ceased, certainly marked a diplomatic first. Ties between London and Tehran are still recovering from last months dispute over the capture of eight British naval personnel by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in southern Iraq. They have since been freed, but the Iranians continue to hold equipment and three Royal Navy patrol vessels and show no signs of returning them. The Sacred Defence Preservation Foundation, a pillar of the Islamic revolution, is an influential organisation. It has erected memorials across the country to the hundreds of thousands of Iranian war dead, whose bodies are still being unearthed along the Iraqi border. The coffins of the dead draped in Iranian flags are frequently paraded around the country, where entire towns and villages turn out to pay their respects. In spite of Tehrans outburst, it may well be possible to create the memorial at the embassy. The building at 16 Princes Gate, which overlooks Kensington Gardens, comes under the jurisdiction of the City of Westminster. It said yesterday that it would consider any planning application put forward. The embassys own bloody recent history could make it easier to get an early approval. The building was stormed by the SAS in 1980 in a daring mission to free hostages held by Iranian gunmen opposed to Ayatollah Khomeini. Five of the six hostagetakers were killed in the operation. The building was set alight by stun grenades thrown during the SAS assault and badly damaged. As a result the buildings interior was delisted when the embassy was finally reopened. It should be possible for the Iranians to build a memorial shrine inside the building without much problem. Permission for an outdoor memorial, perhaps on the embassys terrace, would be more difficult to obtain, but is not thought impossible. Part of the frustration of the Iranians is clearly the sense that the two states have unequal representation in each others capitals. The British Embassy and a grand ambassadorial residence in Tehran are housed on a huge compound in the centre of the capital that has been in British hands for decades. The grounds contain a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery for more than 4,100 British and Allied troops killed in the two world wars. Most died of sickness or on garrison duty in the First World War. A memorial was erected for them. The Second World War casualties were members of Paiforce, which sent supplies to the Soviet Union from Persian ports in the Gulf. The Tehran War Cemetery was opened in 1961 when graves across the country were brought to the embassy.