Cameron makes historic call to Rowhani

The UK premier discussed with the Iranian president negotiations over Iran's nuclear program

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British Prime Minister David Cameron made a phone call to Iranian President Hassan Rowhani on Tuesday, in the first such call between UK and Iranian heads of state in more than a decade.

Cameron and Rowhani discussed the upcoming negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the conflict in Syria and the recent improvements in bilateral ties between London and Tehran, Downing Street said in a statement.

“The prime minister became the first British prime minister to call the Iranian president in more than a decade today when he spoke to President Rowhani this afternoon, ahead of this week’s nuclear negotiations in Geneva,” a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

They “agreed to continue efforts to improve the relationship on a step by step and reciprocal basis”, the statement also said.

Iran and Britain named non-resident charges d’affaires to each other’s capital last week to restore diplomatic ties severed after the British embassy was ransacked in 2011.

“On Iran’s nuclear program, 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 which get underway tomorrow,” AFP quoted the statement as saying.

The next round of talks between foreign ministers of the P5+1 group - Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany – and Iran over its disputed nuclear program is due to start on Wednesday.

During the phone call, Cameron “underlined the necessity of Iran comprehensively addressing the concerns of the international community about their nuclear program, including the need for greater transparency”, the statement also said according to AFP.

“On Syria, there was agreement on the need for a political solution to end the bloodshed,” the Downing Street statement said.

Cameron also offered his condolences to Rowhani over the double suicide bombing outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut earlier Tuesday, the Downing Street spokeswoman said separately.

The al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam brigades said on Tuesday they were behind the double suicide attack on the embassy that killed at least 23 people.

“The prime minister talked about all of us taking a firm stand against terrorism. Terrorism is never right,” the spokeswoman told AFP.

The last British prime minister to speak to an Iranian leader was Tony Blair, who called president Mohammad Khatami in 2002, a Downing Street spokeswoman told AFP.

Iran has recently been following a diplomatic rapprochement with the West, since the election of moderate president Rowhani.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the Iranian President also had a historic phone call in September, the first for the leaders of both countries in over 34 years.

(with AFP)

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