THE Government is continuing negotiations at the highest level for the return of two Hong Kong sailors abducted by armed mainland security forces off Sai Kung on March 18. The dispute over the return of the two men heightened yesterday when Zhuhai police chief Guan Yujia rejected Hong Kong's appeals for the return of the seamen and their vessels. Mr Guan reportedly said the men were arrested in Chinese waters and the vessels entered Hong Kong waters accidentally. However, the Government last night said the key issue was that the men, both Hong Kong residents, were detained in Hong Kong waters by Chinese authorities. 'The Chinese side has acknowledged this, and admitted that it was a mistake. The facts that they had already been seized in Chinese waters, and that they were suspected smugglers, are not relevant, although we remain, as ever, committed to close co-operation on smuggling,' the statement said. 'We are continuing to press for the immediate return of the vessels and the crew. We have done so over the last few days at ministerial level in London and in Beijing as well as in Hong Kong.' The statement also welcomed the overall decline in the frequency of incursions.