London, Tehran Should Build Modern relations

London, Tehran Should Build  Modern relations London, Tehran Should Build  Modern relations

Tehran and London should move on from past issues and turn their sights to the future to help establish modern bilateral ties, the British foreign secretary said.

"Much has happened in the past. Iran and Britain have a very complicated, long history of relations. We cannot change the past and rearrange the history," Philip Hammond said in an interview with IRINN on Saturday.

"Instead of focusing on what occurred in the twentieth or even the nineteenth century, we should move on, seeking to build up positive bilateral ties in the twenty first century and beyond."  

Responding to a question about his country's hand in the 1953 coup to overthrow democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, Hammond said the Iranians should put the issue behind them and adopt a forward-looking approach.

"The modern Britain is totally different from the 1950s Britain and is determined to rebuild modern relations with Iran."

The two countries officially reopened their embassies last week, a move to end a four-year freeze in bilateral diplomatic ties induced by angry protesters storming the British mission.

  Time to Overcome Distrust

The reopening of embassies has provided an opportunity to remove the Iranians' distrust of Britain and help build confidence through more regular official contacts, Hammond was quoted by IRNA as saying.

Britain was one of the international negotiating partners which last month reached a settlement with Iran on the 12-year dispute over its nuclear activities. The July 14 accord will lift economic sanctions against Iran in return for temporary limits on its nuclear program.

Given the prospect of sanctions relief, due in the coming months, many foreign countries look forward to resuming trade with Iran, whose untapped market has a lot to offer in terms of business and investment.

"What will contribute most to confidence building is that all parties to the pact adhere to their commitments, as they have so far" Hammond said.

The top diplomat stressed that London is keen on mending economic relations with Tehran and being "part of the process of Iran's economic development."

Clarifying the British position on the Syria war, Hammond said, "We have adopted a clear stance on Syria. A stable future for Syria is not possible unless an inclusive government is established, with people from all walks of life, sects and minorities being involved in decision-making."

"Although Iran and Britain do not agree on (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad's fate, they both believe the Syrian crisis is to be resolved through diplomatic negotiations."

Western countries want Assad to step down as part of any political solution.

The British official said Iran can play an effective role in the fight against the so-called Islamic State militant group, but should act in a way to ensure it does not create any challenge to others.

"Iran should fully coordinate its campaign with other participants, including the Iraqi army and the anti-IS coalition, to avoid a confusion of responsibilities and actions," he added.