Iran, Britain move forward to restore relations

Iran, Britain move forward to restore relations

Countries to name chargés d'affaires ahead of resumption of embassy activities

British Foreign Secretary William Hague (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90/File)
British Foreign Secretary William Hague (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90/File)

Iran and Britain will shortly name their respective chargés d’affaires ahead of a resumption of embassy operations within the next eight days, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Tuesday.

“Iranian and British charge d’affaires are to be appointed in eight days but will not be residing in Tehran and London permanently. They will rather carry out their tasks by making regular visits to the two capitals,” she said at a press conference, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The embassies will officially reopen after the non-resident chargés d’affaires begin their terms, she added.

“This would be considered as the start of Tehran-London diplomatic relations,” Afkham said.

Iranian and British diplomats began discussing the restoration of ties during the UN General Assembly meeting in September. Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague proposed in a phone call with counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif that the two countries appoint non-resident chargés d’affaires.

Iranian-British relations took a downturn in November 2011 when Britain decided to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran over the country’s rogue nuclear program. First, Iranian lawmakers voted by a large majority to downgrade ties with the UK, and two days later, hundreds of Iranian students protested outside the British Embassy in Tehran, pulling down the British flag. The next day, London withdrew its diplomatic staff from Iran and the Iranian embassy in London was closed.

Since the incident British interests in Iran were represented by the local Swedish embassy, and Iranian interests in London by the embassy of Oman.

Last week, Iran and six world powers, including Britain, finished a round of high-level talks on Iran’s nuclear program, with a new round expected to be held next month.

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