Daily Israel Report

Britain Willing to Restore Ties with Iran

British Foreign Secretary William Hague says Britain is open to improved relations with Iran on a “step-by-step” basis.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/1/2013, 5:12 AM

British Foreign Secretary William Hague in Jerusalem
British Foreign Secretary William Hague in Jerusalem
Flash 90

British Foreign Secretary William Hague signalled on Wednesday that Britain was open to improved relations with Iran on a “step-by-step” basis, following talks with his counterpart in Tehran, reported the Daily Telegraph.

The breakthrough phone call between Hague and Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's outgoing foreign minister, came after overtures from Tehran following last month's general election.

Hague afterwards announced that he would meet with Iranian representatives at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York in September. The Iranian delegation in New York will be led by Hassan Rouhani, the country’s new president who has said he wants to improve Iran's international ties.

A Foreign Office statement quoted by the Daily Telegraph said Britain and Iran could explore improved ties in the face of the need for "urgent progress" to resolve the West's concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

"The Foreign Secretary said he was willing to meet the Iranian Foreign Minister during the UN General Assembly in New York in September," the Foreign Office said. "He made clear that the UK was open to improvements in the bilateral relationship with Iran, on a step-by-step and reciprocal basis."

Rouhani has said that he hoped for better ties with Britain when he takes over from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday.

In November of 2011, Britain ordered the closure of the Iranian embassy in London, and told the Iranian ambassador and his staff they have 48 hours to leave the country.

The move came after a violent mob stormed through the British Embassy in Tehran, smashing windows and hurling firebombs three days after the Tehran government downgraded diplomatic ties with Britain and gave the UK ambassador three days to leave Iran.

Local police did not intervene until the building was completely destroyed.