Canada signals openness to restoring Iran diplomatic ties

Such a move would be a reversal of the foreign policy set by the previous Tory administration

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday expressed an openness to restoring diplomatic ties with Iran, four years after Canada shuttered its embassy in Tehran.

Such a move would be a reversal of the foreign policy set by the previous Tory administration, which had vowed to keep its sanctions regime against Iran after a preliminary deal on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program in 2013.

Trudeau said Iran had made “significant movement towards respecting international expectations” regarding the dismantling of parts of its nuclear program that the West feared could have led to the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

“That is something positive and I expect there will be (diplomatic) links now between Canada and Iran,” he said.

“We will certainly be discussing that further at a cabinet meeting in the coming weeks,” he added.

Canada broke diplomatic ties with Iran in September 2012.

At the time, then foreign affairs minister John Baird did not cite a specific incident for the breakdown in relations but issued a strongly worded attack on the Islamic republic’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, its “incitement to genocide” against Israel, and its leaders’ failure to account for their nuclear program.

Ties were strained by Tehran’s jailing of Iranian-born Canadians. Iran does not recognize dual nationality and authorities have denied Canadian detainees consular protection.

In July, Iran and global powers reached a deal in Vienna that saw sanctions lifted this weekend.

On Sunday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told the Globe and Mail newspaper that Ottawa would decide “in a timely fashion” whether to also lift sanctions in order to allow Canadian companies to join US and EU firms rushing to do business in Iran.

“Because if other countries move before us, it’s not a way to help our industry,” he said, adding that Canadian sanctions alone would not be very effective.