LONDON (TIP): In a historic first, David Cameron on November 19 became the first British PM to call an Iranian president in more than a decade. Cameron spoke to Hassan Rouhani by telephone on Tuesday afternoon ahead of negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in Geneva this week. A Downing Street spokesman said “The two leaders discussed the bilateral relationship between Britain and Iran welcoming the steps taken since President Rouhani took office, including the appointment of non-resident Charges d’Affaires last week”.

On Iran’s nuclear programme, the Downing street spokesman said “both leaders agreed that significant progress had been made in the recent Geneva negotiations and that it was important to seize the opportunity presented by the further round of talks”. The PM underlined the necessity of Iran comprehensively addressing the concerns of the international community about their %nuclear programme including the need for greater transparency. On Syria, there was agreement on the need for a political solution to end the bloodshed”.

Rouhani also gave details of the phone call on his Twitter feed, saying the two leaders discussed “way to create a positive atmosphere to address concerns on both sides on the nuclear issue”. Three days of highlevel talks between representatives from Iran and the P5+1 %group of nations earlier this month failed to achieve a breakthrough. In September, President Barack Obama and Rouhani made history with a phone call, thawing three decade freeze between US and Iran.

It was the first time that leaders from the US and Iran had directly communicated since the 1979 Iranian revolution. UK said is committed to negotiating a peaceful diplomatic settlement that gives the world confidence that Iran’s nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes. UK recently appointed Ajay Sharma as the UK’s non-resident Charge d’Affaires to Iran.On October 8, Britain’s foreign secretary Willian Hague announced that the UK and Iran had agreed to appoint nonresident Charges d’Affaires as an important step towards improving the bilateral relationship.

“Mr Sharma’s appointment will enable the UK to have more detailed and regular discussions with Iran on a range of issues, including conditions under which our Embassies could eventually be reopened. Mr Sharma will be based in the UK but will travel regularly to Iran.” UK said. Mr Sharma has significant experience of Iran and the region. He is currently head of Iran department at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and served previously as deputy head of mission in Tehran. On his appointment, Mr Sharma said “I am very much looking forward to renewing direct UK contact with the Iranian Government and society. This is very much in the interests of both our countries. I hope to make my first visit to Tehran as non-resident Charge later this month”.