British FM Arrives in Iran to Reopen Embassies, Hold Bilateral Talks

British FM Arrives in Iran to Reopen Embassies, Hold Bilateral Talks
Sun Aug 23, 2015 13:15:42

Heading a political-economic delegation, British Secretary of State Philip Hammond arrived in Tehran on Sunday to hold talks with Iran's high-ranking officials.

During his two-day visit to Iran, Philip Hammond will meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, President Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.

Hammond will also hold talks with Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zanganeh and Governor of Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif.

Today, Britain’s embassy in Iran will reopen in a sign of the diplomatic thaw between the two nations four years after the building was shut when it was stormed by protesters.

Philip Hammond is in Iran for a ceremony to mark the move in the first visit to the country by a British foreign secretary since 2003. He and Treasury minister Damian Hinds, along with a trade delegation, will discuss opportunities following the historic nuclear agreement.

Initially, the embassy will be headed by a charge d’affaires, Ajay Sharma, but Hammond said an agreement on upgrading to full ambassador status is expected to be reached in the coming months. Iran’s embassy in London will also reopen concurrently at the presence of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Administrative and Financial Affairs Mehdi Danesh Yazdi in London.

“Reopening our embassies is a key step to improve bilateral relations," Hammond reiterated in an interview before departing for Tehran. He added, "In the first instance, we will want to ensure that the nuclear agreement is a success, including by encouraging trade and investment once sanctions are lifted. Britain and Iran should also be ready to discuss the challenges we both face including terrorism, regional stability, the spread of ISIL in Syria and Iraq, counter-narcotics and migration.”

Last month Iran struck a deal after a decade of negotiations with world states over its nuclear program, with sanctions being lifted in return for allowing inspections.

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