Iranians celebrated the long-awaited reopening of their London embassy on Sunday with Qur’anic verses, soft drinks, expressions of florid goodwill and relentless hopes for a better future for the often stormy relationship between the Islamic Republic and the UK.
Taking its cue from the parallel ceremony in Tehran, the event at the Iranian ambassador’s residence in Kensington was long on formal expressions of mutual respect and short on matters of substance or contention.
Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi, one of Iran’s deputy foreign ministers, set the tone with a call for relations based on mutual respect and good faith. He also called for a new era of cooperation following last month’s landmark nuclear deal and the steadily improving atmosphere between the two governments since a 2011 attack on the British embassy.
Guests were offered bottled water and French macaroons in the grand first-floor drawing room of the residence, a few doors down the white stucco terrace from the embassy itself, scene of the SAS’s famous hostage rescue in 1980.