A police officer stands guard outside the Iranian embassy in central London, on November 30, 2011
A police officer stands guard outside the Iranian embassy in central London, on November 30, 2011 © Carl Court - AFP
A police officer stands guard outside the Iranian embassy in central London, on November 30, 2011
AFP
Last updated: December 2, 2013

British envoy to visit Tehran after two years

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Britain's new envoy to Tehran, Ajay Sharma, is to visit Iran on Tuesday for the first time to try to consolidate a thaw in ties which were severed in 2011, officials said.

Sharma's Iranian counterpart, Hassan Habibollah-Zadeh, announced the visit in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency and the report was confirmed by Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Habibollah-Zadeh told IRNA on Monday that he would also be travelling to London.

"As the first step, the British non-resident charge d'affaires Ajay Sharma arrives Tuesday in Tehran along with a delegation to visit British diplomatic buildings and hold talks with foreign ministry officials," he said.

"Following that I will travel to London along with a delegation to study the situation of Iran's diplomatic buildings, improve consular services and hold talks with British officials," he added.

Hague confirmed the visit in a tweet saying: "UK chargé d’affaires will make 1st visit to Tehran tomorrow. We'll improve UK-Iran ties on a step-by-step, reciprocal basis."

There has been a thaw in ties between the Islamic republic and the international community since the June election of President Hassan Rouhani, a reputed moderate who has reached out to the West and steered his country into a landmark nuclear deal with major powers.

Britain ordered the closure of Iran's embassy in London after shuttering its own in Tehran following the storming of the compound by hundreds of Islamist students in November 2011.

The students -- protesting against Western sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme -- ransacked the building as well as the British ambassador's residence in north Tehran.

The two countries each named a non-resident charge d'affaires -- a diplomatic post that is one level below ambassador -- last month.

Hague said the decision to name envoys was made after he met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in October on the sidelines of Geneva talks on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

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