FOREIGN Secretary William Hague has heralded a new positive relationship between the UK and Iran as he said “the circumstances are right” to reopen the embassy in Tehran.
With the crisis of Islamist extremists growing in Iraq, Mr Hague has announced a full recommencement of diplomatic links with Iran as a means to bring peace and stability to the region.
The move sees the reopening of the embassy which was closed down in 2011 after Iranian government sponsored militants stormed the buildings in protest to sanctions imposed over efforts by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime to develop nuclear weapons.
However, Mr Hague insisted that the UK is “not softening” its position on Iran and nuclear weapons but acknowledging progress made under the current president Hassan Rouhani.
Hague told Parliament in a written statement he is satisfied British embassy personnel would be safe in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and that diplomats would be allowed to work without hindrance.
He said “a range of practical issues” have to be resolved before the embassy can begin operations again and full consular services would not be offered at first.
“It is our intention to re-open the embassy in Tehran with a small initial presence as soon as these practical arrangements have been made,” he said. “Inevitably, the initial embassy presence will only able to offer a limited range of services at first. For the time being, Iranians will still need to apply in Abu Dhabi or Istanbul for visas for travel to the U.K. “
Britain and Iran have been in contact in recent days because of shared concerns over mounting violence in Iraq. Iran has sent military officers to Iraq to help coordinate defenses. Britain is sending humanitarian aid to refugees.
Hague said he spoke with Iran’s foreign minister Saturday about taking more steps to improve relations.
Hague’s announcement is part of a gradual improvement in relations between the two countries since moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to power in August. Prime Minister David Cameron spoke with Rouhani by telephone in November, marking the first such contact between the two countries in more than a decade.
In February, Iran partially reopened its embassy in Britain, offering consular services only. Hague said he expects Iran’s government to “take steps” to expand its embassy operation in London.