UK minister to visit Iran on 23 June to call for de-escalation in Middle East

Sputnik – UK Minister for the Middle East Andrew Murrison will visit Iran on 23 June, and will call for de-escalation in the region, the UK government said in a statement.

“UK Minister of State for the Middle East, Dr Murrison, will conduct a short visit to Iran on 23 June … Dr Murrison will call for urgent de-escalation in the region and raise UK and international concerns about Iran’s regional conduct and its threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal to which the UK remains fully committed”, the statement reads.

London has been engaged in a diplomatic dialogue with Tehran, and Murrison’s visit is expected to help further this communication, according to the statement.

The statement comes after the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said on 20 June that it shot down a US surveillance drone over the coastal Hormozgan province, facing the Persian Gulf, for crossing into Iran’s airspace. The Pentagon has insisted that the aicraft was flying over neutral waters in the Strait of Hormuz.

The incident has prompted a rough reaction on the US part, with President Trump initially claiming that Iran made “a very big mistake” and revealing that the US considered an attack on Iran. However, later Trump told reporters he doubted the drone shoot down was intentional. The president also stated that the military strike against three sites in Iran was called off just ten minutes before it was set to be carried out.

In addition to this, tensions have been high as two oil tankers, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous and the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, were hit by blasts in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz last week. While the causes of the incident remain unknown, the United States claimed that Iran had attacked the vessels. Iran has denied all the allegations of having a role in the incident.

This May, Iran announced it that would partially discontinue its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. The decision came a year after US President Donald Trump said that his country would be exiting the agreement and reimposing wide-ranging sanctions on Tehran. Shortly afterwards, the remaining signatories reaffirmed their commitment to the deal.