UK top diplomat in Tehran for key talks

November 20, The Iran Project – The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran on Monday (Nov. 19) to confer with top Iranian officials on crucial issues.

Hunt’s one-day stop in Tehran features meetings with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif as well as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani.

The Iranian and British foreign ministers met and conferred on a wide range of issues, on top of which was a proposed financial mechanism by Europe known as Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

Special Purpose Vehicle aims to help facilitate transactions between Iran and the European countries within the framework of Iran nuclear deal, despite the new US sanctions re-imposed on Tehran.

Zarif tweeted after the meeting that the two top diplomats “reviewed issues of mutual interest, especially maintaining the JCPOA and Europe’s commitment to normalize economic relations with Iran,” adding that they had “also discussed how to end the catastrophic war and humanitarian nightmare in Yemen.”

After the meeting with his British counterpart in response to questions put forward by the Guardian’s correspondent, FM Zarif stated that “Iran will not only survive newly re-imposed US sanctions but it will thrive.”

According to the Guardian, the top Iranian diplomat said, “We are used to pressure and we are used to resisting pressure. Sanctions always hurt and they hurt ordinary people, but sanctions seldom change policy, and that has been the problem with US sanctions all the time. They do not take people back to the negotiating table. In fact, they strengthen the resolve to resist.”

Zarif went on to add that Iran was frustrated by the slow pace of EU moves to help European companies that want to continue trading with Iran.

With regard to the EU-promised financial mechanism to keep trade with Iran under US sanctions, he noted that “what is important is that Europe has made the political commitment but, unfortunately, so far as practicabilities are concerned, it has been very slow,” adding “Hunt gave me commitment that the UK believes in the nuclear deal, but we also need to see some action.”

On Yemen, Zarif said Iran had been pushing for a ceasefire for years.

“The humanitarian nightmare cannot continue,” he said. “All the Yeminis are prepared to come to the negotiating table provided the [Saudi-led] coalition enables them to do so.”

In a meeting with  Jeremy Hunt, Ali Shamkhani said European countries collaborating with the United States’ policies are accomplices in crimes committed by the US, the Israeli regime and reactionary states in the region.

Shamkhani warned that if the US succeeded to impose its will on Europeans with regard to Iran, it would also interfere in their relations with other countries.

He urged the European Union to resist the US excessive demands in order to defend its own identity and independence.

Britain’s Hunt is the first Western official of his rank to visit Iran since the US, formerly a party to the deal, unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal on May 8.

The administration of US President Donald Trump had been hoping to get the other parties to the deal with Iran to likewise exit the accord. Instead, they have stressed that not only will they stick to the agreement but that they will also work to sustain it in the face of increased US pressure.