Britain has decided to revive the bridge of diplomacy with Iran. The foreign secretaries of Britain and Iran have reached a consensus to appoint their respective non-resident charge d’affaires tasked with implementing the building of relations, including interim steps on the way towards the eventual reopening of their respective embassies in Tehran and London. Diplomatic relations between London and Tehran had suffered a severe setback after the British embassy’s compounds in Tehran were overrun in 2011. The Iranian parliament later voted to downgrade relations with the UK. Foreign ministry officials from both countries will meet in Geneva next week to discuss “numbers of and conditions for locally-engaged staff in the embassy premises of each country and visits to inspect these premises”.
According to British foreign secretary William Hague, progress would take place on a “step-by-step reciprocal basis”. “We are open to more direct contact,” he said, adding the coming months “may be unusually significant” in British-Iranian relations. “It is clear that the new president and ministers in Iran are presenting themselves and their country in a much more positive way than in the recent past,” Hague told MPs in the House of Commons. “There is no doubt that the tone of the meetings with them is different. We must test the Iranian government’s sincerity to the full, and it is important that our channels of communication are open for that.” Hague said he had had detailed discussions with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on how to improve the functioning of the UK-Iran bilateral relationship. “It is understood on both sides that given this history, progress in our bilateral relationship needs to proceed on a step-by-step and reciprocal basis,” Hague said. “The foreign minister and I agreed our officials would meet to discuss this. The first such meeting has already taken place, and will be followed by a further meeting in Geneva next week. I’ve made very clear to Mr Zarif that we are open to more direct contact and further improvements in our bilateral relationship.”