Britain revives diplomatic ties with Iran after embassy attack

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

Britain’s Foreign Office said Ajay Sharma, currently the head of the ministry’s Iran department, will take up the post immediately, Reuters reported.

“I am very much looking forward to renewing direct UK contact with the Iranian government and society,” Agence France-Presse quoted Sharma as saying in a statement.

“This is very much in the interests of both our countries,” he said.

Sharma added that he hoped to make his first visit to Tehran later this month.

Sharma worked as deputy head of Britain’s Tehran mission between 2007 and 2008 and has held additional diplomatic posts in Moscow, Paris, London and Ankara.

The UK’s announcement shows a thaw in relations with the West and comes after Iran and six world powers, including Britain, came close to a preliminary agreement about Tehran's nuclear program at the weekend.

Meanwhile, an Iranian official “will travel to London in the near future to examine the situation of Iran’s possessions and buildings in Britain and to improve consular activities,” Fars news agency quoted the foreign minister’s spokesman as saying.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague meanwhile confirmed the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between Britain and Iran.

Hague also said that talks on Iran’s nuclear program aim at finding an interim agreement involving limited sanctions relief before any final settlement.

Tehran and world powers failed to clinch a long-sought deal Sunday despite marathon talks in Geneva but kept hopes alive by agreeing to meet again in the Swiss city on November 20.

Hague said in a statement to parliament on the talks, which he attended, that there was “no doubt in my mind” that a deal could be reached.

“Our aim is to produce an interim, first-step agreement with Iran that can then create the confidence and the space to negotiate a comprehensive and final settlement,” AFP quoted Hague as saying.

“The talks broke up without reaching that interim agreement because some gaps between the parties remain,” Hague said, adding that “most of those gaps are now narrow and many others were bridged altogether during the negotiations.”

“Any interim agreement would involve offering Iran limited, proportionate sanctions relief.”

But he said that the international community would be "vigilant and firm" in upholding sanctions until there was an interim deal with Iran.

Hague meanwhile played down talk that France was behind the failure of the Iran nuclear talks.

“It’s not right to speak of any veto on the negotiations by any of the E3+3 countries,” he said, referring to the world powers involved in the talks.

(With Reuters and AFP)