British Foreign Secretary William Hague says the UK seeks to enhance its relations with the Islamic Republic.
“Nowruz is also a time for fresh starts and in that spirit I want to say to the Iranian people that the United Kingdom looks forward this year to improving relations with Iran,” said Hague in a video message for the Persian New Year.
People in Iran and many other countries mark the first day of spring as the beginning of the new year. Nowruz falls on March 21 this year.
“This is something our two governments have been working over the last few months; our diplomats are visiting each others’ countries after a gap of nearly two years. We are establishing new relationships and we are talking to each other about a range of matters important to both our countries,” he added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Hague met in New York in September 2013, during which they discussed ways to improve Tehran-London ties based on mutual respect.
The British diplomat further pointed out in his Nowruz message that talks can help settle “differences” between the two countries.
“Of course, it doesn’t mean we have resolved our all differences. We haven’t. There remain many pressing issues for us to address. But I firmly believe that constructive dialogue and improved cooperation between the UK and Iran is in all our interests. For that reason, we will continue our efforts to improve relations in ways that bring concrete benefits to both our people,” he stated.
On February 20, Iran and the UK officially resumed direct diplomatic relations that were severed in 2011.
In November 2011, Iranian lawmakers voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic ties with the UK in response to Britain’s decision to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran over the baseless allegation that Tehran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Two days after the decision by Majlis, hundreds of Iranian students staged a protest outside the British Embassy in Tehran, pulling down the UK flag and demanding the expulsion of the British ambassador.
Following the incident, Hague announced on November 30, 2011, that London is withdrawing its diplomatic staff from Iran and that the Iranian Embassy in London would be closed.
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