Monday May 19, 201409:57 AM GMT
Tehran, London in talks to restore ties: Official
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi

A top Iranian official says the Islamic Republic and the United Kingdom are in talks to revive mutual diplomatic relations.

In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian published on Sunday, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi said the restoration of bilateral ties between Tehran and London is under active discussion.

To this end, he said, an agreement is possible by the end of the year although there is no timetable.

Takht-e-Ravanchi assessed as good a visit to Iran last month by British Foreign Office Political Director Simon Gass , during which he held talks with several senior Iranian officials.

 “There was agreement on some things, and not on others,” said the Iranian official, adding “It is good to be talking. We are moving in the right direction.”

Tehran and London have appointed non-resident chargés d’affaires as a first step toward reopening their respective embassies.

Iran and the UK officially resumed direct diplomatic ties in February after the two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2011.

On November 27, 2011, Iranian lawmakers voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, in response to Britain's decision to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran over the allegation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Following the decision by Majlis, hundreds of Iranian students staged a protest outside the British Embassy in Tehran, pulling down the UK flag and demanding the expulsion of the British ambassador.

On November 30 of the same year, London cut off its ties with Tehran, withdrew its diplomatic staff from Iran and the Iranian Embassy in London was closed.

Commenting on the 2011 issue, Takht-e-Ravanchi also said that Tehran is working with London over the incident as part of efforts to revive bilateral diplomatic ties.

 “An apology is not under consideration. There are many things that happened in the past for which we have not received an apology. But we are definitely working with the British government on what happened,” Takht-e-Ravanchi said.

Compensation might be part of the discussions, he added.

YH/NN/HRB

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