December 11, 2013
Announcement comes two years after mob attackWednesday, October 9, 2013
Britain, Iran talk about re-opening embassies
LONDON — Britain and Iran have started talks aimed at restoring diplomatic relations, two years after an angry mob ransacked the British Embassy in Tehran, Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday.
The announcement reflects a significant thawing in Iran’s relations with the West which has imposed tough economic sanctions on Tehran since the Embassy storming. It may raise hopes of a breakthrough in talks with world powers about its disputed nuclear programme in Geneva next week.
Hague said there had been a “marked change” for the better in Iran’s approach since Hassan Rouhani was election president in June, replacing hardliner
“Both our countries will now appoint a non-resident charge d’affaires tasked with implementing the building of relations, including interim steps on the way toward (the) eventual reopening of both our embassies,” Hague told Parliament.
“It is clear that the new president and ministers in Iran are presenting themselves and their country in a much more positive way. We must test the Iranian government’s sincerity to the full.”
Britain’s two diplomatic compounds in Tehran were overrun on an afternoon in November 2011 in what London said was a co-ordinated attack, after a rally against British sanctions escalated into violence and protesters scaled the walls. As crowds smashed and burned buildings and documents, diplomats inside feared they would suffer a similar fate to US staff who were held for 444 days after their Embassy was seized in 1979.
Although the protesters withdrew after a rampage lasting several hours, Britain immediately withdrew all staff, closed the Embassy, and ejected Iranian diplomats from London. It was the worst crisis between Britain and Iran since full diplomatic relations were restored in 1999, a decade after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa that British author Salman Rushdie should be killed for writing The Satanic Verses.