Iran, UK reopen embassies after four years

Iran, UK reopen embassies

In a clear visible shift in the approach of the western countries towards Iran, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond reopened Britain’s embassy in Tehran. It was shut four years ago when Iranian protestors stormed the compound of the embassy. During the attack in 2011, the attackers burned the Union Jack apart from ransacking the then ambassador’s residence.

Foreign secretary Hammond watched the British flag being raised in the garden of the opulent 19th century building while the national anthem played. “Today’s ceremony marks the end of one phase in the relationship between our two countries and the start of a new one — one that I believe offers the promise of better,” he said. Mr Hammond also spoke about how the relationship improved step by step after the diplomatic relations between both countries hit its lowest in 2011. He also appreciated President Hassan Rouhani’s role in working towards improving the relations between both countries. The nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries was an important milestone, he added.

Iran opened its embassy in London, a few hours after Britain opened the embassy in Tehran. Both the embassies will be run by temporary diplomats initially till the ambassadors are decided. He is the second foreign minister to visit Iran since the 1979 revolution took place. The last visit was by Jack Straw in 2003. Iran is a major regional player that can be an ally in fighting terrorism — but the United Kingdom must ‘tread carefully’ in its relationship with Tehran, said Mr Hammond.

Mr Hammond who also met the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani mentioned that the two countries shared common ground despite a legacy of distrust between both countries. “Iran is too large a player, too important a player in this region, to simply live in isolation,” said Philip Hammond.

One thing is clear the thaw in Iran’s relations with the West is evident and no Iranian President since 1979 has enjoyed appreciation and recognition in the international community like Hassan Rouhani has.

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