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Iran Slams British, Russian Envoys Over 'Undiplomatic' Tehran Conference Photo

The picture shows Russian Ambassador Levan Dzhagaryan (left) and British envoy Simon Shercliff sitting where Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sat at the Russian Embassy during the 1943 Tehran Conference.

Iran has summoned the Russian and British ambassadors after a photograph was posted on the Russian Embassy's Twitter account commemorating a historic meeting of allied leaders in Tehran during World War II.

State media reported on August 12 that Iran's Foreign Ministry had “invited” Ambassadors Levan Dzhagaryan and Simon Shercliff for discussions over the photo, which recalled the 1943 Tehran Conference, when Iran was occupied by Russia and Britain.

The picture shows the Russian envoy and Britain's ambassador sitting where British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin sat together at the Russian Embassy during the 1943 meeting. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chair in the middle was empty.

Russia and Britain had invaded neutral Iran in 1941 to secure oil fields and Russian supply lines.

Foreign Minister-designate Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the photo was “undiplomatic” and an affront to “the national pride of the Iranian people.”

Iran’s outgoing foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called the photo “inappropriate."

The Russian Embassy said it had no intention of causing offense.

"We would like to note that it does not have any anti-Iranian context. We were not going to offend the feelings of the friendly Iranian people," it tweeted.

"The only meaning that this photo has is to pay tribute to the joint efforts of the allied states against Nazism during the Second World War. Iran is our friend and neighbor, and we will continue to strengthen relations based on mutual respect" the embassy added.

The British ambassador retweeted the comments.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters