UK Sees Bright Outlook for Bilateral Relations

UK Sees Bright Outlook for  Bilateral  RelationsUK Sees Bright Outlook for  Bilateral  Relations

The British charge d'affaires feels optimistic about the future prospects of Tehran-London relations after the recent visit to Britain by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the first in 16 years.

"Mr. Zarif's trip at this juncture following an August visit by [Britain's Foreign Secretary] Philip Hammond to reopen the British Embassy in Tehran is a positive step," Nicholas Hopton told IRNA on Saturday.

"It is a further step toward normalization of Iran-Britain ties."

Hopton confirmed that the British Embassy in Tehran will soon resume visa services.

In a twitter message on Friday after meeting Zarif for breakfast, Hammond hailed his counterpart's trip as a "symbol of warming relations" in spite of decades of mistrust and ongoing differences on regional issues, the Guardian reported.

Bilateral relations reached a nadir in November 2011, when a group of students attacked the UK mission in Tehran in protest against London's decision to intensify sanctions against Iran.

The reopening of the two countries' embassies in August was the outcome of about two years of contacts between the two governments, after President Hassan Rouhani's election in 2013.

Zarif went to London after British Prime Minister David Cameron officially invited Tehran to the Syria peace conference during a recent phone conversation with Rouhani.

"We need to redefine the problem. We need to redefine the threat. I don't think we need to be brilliant to see the threat; the threat is before all of us: Daesh [an Arabic acronym for the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group]. Unless we try to accommodate each other, we can't find a peaceful solution to Syria," Zarif told a group of lawmakers and businessmen at the Palace of Westminster.

He said he did not think the next US president, whoever that was, would be in a position to tear up the nuclear deal.

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The foreign minister criticized the US Congress for a new legislation that penalized dual nationals with Iranian origin or foreign nationals who have visited Iran in the past five years by excluding them from a program that previously allowed them to travel to the US without a visa.

Zarif said he had raised the issue with his American counterpart and urged his European counterparts to protest against the legislation, which he said was also a barrier to academic exchanges between Iran and the West.

"That's bizarre. Not a single Iranian, or a person who has traveled to Iran has committed an act of terror since September 11. Iran should not be singled out. It is discriminatory."