British premier meets with Iranian president at the UN
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British premier meets with Iranian president at the UN

Theresa May discusses thawing relationship with Tehran, nuclear deal, pleads for jailed mother

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pose before their bilateral meeting during the UN General Assembly in New York City, September 20, 2016. (Christopher Furlong/Pool/Getty Images/AFP)
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pose before their bilateral meeting during the UN General Assembly in New York City, September 20, 2016. (Christopher Furlong/Pool/Getty Images/AFP)

UK Prime Minister Theresa May met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In what was their first meeting, they discussed rebuilding the relationship between the two countries in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal.

According to Iran’s Tasnim news site, May said that Britain voiced support for strengthening her country’s ties with Tehran and praised the tightening political and economic relations between the countries.

Rouhani praised the developing relationship between the two countries and stressed the importance of the nuclear deal, Press TV reported. He also called on May to work to fully implement all the conditions of the agreement, and to remove any legal and technical obstacles to full economic ties between the two countries.

The meeting followed May’s first address to the international body after replacing David Cameron as prime minister. She promised that her country will remain open and active on the global stage, despite its shock vote to leave the European Union.

May said that Britain, one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, would remain a player on major issues including fighting poverty, terrorism and climate change.

She pledged a particular focus on preventing human trafficking, saying that criminals had created a modern form of slavery.

“We need to be smarter and even more coordinated than the criminal gangs in our efforts to stop them,” she said.

During her meeting with Rouhani, May also raised the issue of a British aid worker who is being held in Iran on unspecified charges said to include spying. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was arrested in April as she and her baby daughter were leaving the country after a visit.

“We think it is important with all the relations we have with countries around the world, that we can engage frankly where there are consular issues that need resolving,” a government source was quoted by Sky News as saying.

The official implied that the arrest may hamper ties between the two countries.

“I think our view is if we are going to have a productive relationship with Iran moving forward, if Iran wants to increase its reputation for working with international partners on things, then we should be able to raise such issues and discuss them while continuing to develop a relationship,” the official said.

Earlier this month, Iran and Britain appointed ambassadors to each other’s countries for the first time since a mob ransacked the British Embassy in Tehran in 2011.

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