British diplomat to visit Iran for first time in two years

December 03, 2013 - 8:15:12 am


Ajay Sharma & Mohammad Javad Zarif
Dubai/MUSCAT: Britain’s newly-appointed envoy will travel to Iran today, the first diplomatic visit by a British official since its embassy in Tehran was stormed more than two years ago.

The election of a relative moderate, President Hassan Rowhani, has paved the way for a thaw in ties between the two countries. London announced the appointment of Ajay Sharma as its charge d’affaires in November.

“In the first step, the British non-resident charge d’affaires will travel to Tehran today with a delegation to visit (diplomatic) facilities in the country and have talks with officials at the Foreign Ministry,” Mohammad Habibullah Zadeh, his Iranian counterpart, was quoted as saying by state news agency Irna. Habibullah said he would then visit London.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Twitter: “Ajay Sharma will make 1st visit to Tehran tomorrow. We’ll improve UK-Iran ties on a step-by-step, reciprocal basis.”

Hague cut direct diplomatic relations with Iran soon after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by activists in November 2011.

British officials accused Iranian authorities of failing in their duties to protect diplomats and their residences which were ransacked and set on fire.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appealed yesterday to Saudi Arabia to work together with his government toward achieving regional “stability”, in remarks to AFP during a visit to Oman.

“I believe that our relations with Saudi Arabia should expand as we consider Saudi Arabia as an extremely important country in the region and the Islamic world,” Zarif said.

“We believe that Iran and Saudi Arabia should work together in order to promote peace and stability in the region.”

Zarif’s remarks came during a stopover in Muscat as part of a tour he began in Kuwait aimed at assuring Gulf Arab states that a deal Tehran secured with the West on its nuclear programme is in their interest.

Agencies
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