UK embassy in Tehran to reopen Sunday

The UK embassy in Iran will be reopened Sunday four years after it was shut down due to violent protests, amid a thaw in relations between London and Tehran.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will be flying to Tehran to open the embassy, becoming the first top British diplomat to visit the Islamic Republic since 2003.

“Four years on from an attack on the British Embassy, I am today reopening it. The Iranians will simultaneously reopen their embassy in London. Our relationship has improved since 2011,” Hammond said as quoted by the Belfast Telegraph, stating that the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the conclusion of the nuclear agreement last month were important milestones.

The reestablishment of the embassies does not mean that the two sides agree on everything, according to Hammond.

“But it is right that Britain and Iran should have a presence in each other’s countries. The role of embassies is to build co-operation where we agree and to reduce our differences where we don’t.”

At first, the embassies will be led by a charge d’affaires, with small numbers of employees providing limited range of consular services.

The UK embassy was closed following a mob attack in November 2011, after London broadened its sanctions against Iran over nuclear weapon development concerns.

The thaw in the relationship between the two countries comes after Iran and the six world powers — the United Kingdom among them — reached an agreement in July obliging Tehran to guarantee the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities in exchange for an easing of sanctions against the country.