TEHRAN –British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is committed to rebuilding diplomatic relations with Iran but will proceed with a “clear eye and hard head”, BBC reported.
Cameron said the reopening of the British embassy in Tehran, announced on Tuesday, was an important step in that process.
Full diplomatic relations with Iran were suspended after attacks on the British embassy in Iran in 2011 but UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the “circumstances were right” for the embassy to reopen following an improvement in bilateral relations in recent months.
The election of a new Iranian president and a deal on Iran’s nuclear program has led to renewed contacts between the UK and Iran this year.
Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street after talks with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, Cameron said the attack in 2011 had brought UK-Iranian relations to an “all-time low”.
But he said it was right that the two countries should engage in “greater dialogue” and seek to improve relations on a “step-by-step” basis.
The shared interest in confronting militants led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has accelerated contacts between the West and Iran.
Cameron said he would have supported improved relations with Iran in any case but “what is happening in Iraq is not a reason for not taking that step”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hague said the UK embassy would re-open “as soon as practical arrangements are made” as a sign of “increasing confidence” in the state of relations between the two countries.
The foreign secretary said he had sought assurances that British diplomatic staff would be safe and would be able to carry out their work “without hindrance”.
Speaking in Parliament, Hague rejected suggestions that the move amounted to a “softening” of the UK’s approach towards Iran and stressed the UK wanted to see a change in its foreign policy.