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Britain Set To Reopen Embassy In Iran

Iranian students break into the British embassy in Tehran in November 2011. The United Kingdom closed its embassy in the Iranian capital shortly after attacks on the facility in connection with London's support for increased international sanctions against Iran.
U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague says London intends to reopen the British Embassy in Tehran.

Speaking to Parliament on June 17, Hague said "the circumstances are right" after improvements in relations in recent months to reopen the diplomatic post in Tehran, which has been closed for three years.

Hague discussed reopening the embassy along with the crisis in Iraq with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif over the weekend.

The foreign secretary said recent advances by Sunni militants in Iraq have given this process a "mighty great shove."

Hague said Iran is an "important country in a volatile region" and that the embassy in Tehran will reopen when it is safe for embassy staffers and "a range of practical issues" are resolved.

He said the election of Hassan Rohani as president was an important step toward improving ties between the West and Tehran.

In Parliament, Hague rejected suggestions that a reopening of the British Embassy was a sign of London "softening" its approach toward Iran.

He said Britain still seeks a change in Iranian foreign policy, particularly its support for "sectarian groups across the Middle East and [for Tehran] to reach a successful conclusion" to talks aimed at curbing its controversial nuclear program.

Britain has also voiced concerns about Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his battle against opposition forces in the country's three-year-old civil war, which has reportedly killed some 160,000 people and displaced millions of others.

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw welcomed the move to reopen the embassy in Tehran, saying he hopes it leads to a new approach in British foreign policy in which Iran is seen "as much more of a partner than an adversary."

Full diplomatic relations between London and Tehran were suspended after attacks on the British Embassy in the Iranian capital in 2011 in connection with Britain's support for increased international sanctions against Iran.

Protesters caused great damage to the embassy amid the attacks.

But in November 2013, London revived diplomatic relations, appointing a nonresident charge d'affaires.
With reporting by AFP, dpa, and the BBC
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