Iran, Britain To Boost Cooperation As Their Embassies Reopen

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (right) shakes hands with his British counterpart Philip Hammond prior to their joint press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (right) shakes hands with his British counterpart Philip Hammond prior to their joint press conference in Tehran on Sunday.

TEHRAN, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) — Iran and Britain agreed on Sunday to enhance cooperation as their embassies reopened in each other’s capital after nearly four years of closure.

The embassies in Tehran and London are reopened at the level of charge de affairs, which will be a new beginning for the relations between Iran and Britain, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said at a joint press conference with his visiting British counterpart Philip Hammond.

Over the past years, relations between Tehran and London have seen a number of challenges. Despite their differences still over some international issues, both countries share the same stance over the “successful implementation” of recent Iran’s nuclear agreement, fighting extremism and sectarianism, and the campaign against illicit drugs in the region, according to Zarif.

Iran is resolved to expand its ties with EU states, including Britain, a major EU member, on the common interests, and will talk on the differences, he added.

For his part, Hammond said that Iran, a big regional country, has a big economy which can grow fast. The economic delegation accompanying him to Tehran has had good discussions with the Iranian side.

“There is a huge appetite both on the part of our commercial and industrial businesses to engage with the opportunity of Iran opening up,” he said.

Hammond called the implementation of the nuclear agreement a proper ground to work together and build trust. While developing their ties in a “step by step” manner, Iran and Britain can upgrade their cooperation in economic and trade sectors, he said.

“In the first instance, we will want to ensure that the nuclear agreement is a success, including by encouraging trade and investment once sanctions are lifted,” Hammond said.

The reopening of the embassies “is not symbolic but an important channel” to resolve the differences between the two countries, which will also facilitate the connection of the people of both sides, he said.

Meanwhile, Tehran and London can work together to tackle issues of terrorism in Syria and Iraq, illicit drugs as well as illicit migration, he added.

Hammond came to Tehran to preside over Sunday’s reopening ceremony of the British embassy after four years of closure.

“Today’s ceremony marks the end of one phase in the relationship between our two countries and the start of a new one,” he said.

The silver-color signboard showing “British Embassy” was installed on the exterior wall of the complex in central district of Tehran, replacing the Sweden signboard as Switzerland had represented British interests in Iran during the embassy’s closure.

The embassy was stormed in 2011 by a group of angry Iranian students who were protesting Britain’s nuclear-related sanctions.

Concurrent with the reopening of the British embassy on Sunday, Iran also reopened its embassy in London.

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