UK Embassy’s Visa Services Not Fully Restored

UK Embassy’s Visa Services Not Fully RestoredUK Embassy’s Visa Services Not Fully Restored

While Tehran and London have recently reestablished diplomatic relations at the ambassador level, the British side has yet to address lingering visa problems, a lawmaker said.

“The problem for visa issuance has not been completely resolved on Britain’s side,” Chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi told ICANA on Friday.

Iran and Britain have upgraded diplomatic relations back to ambassador level five years after the storming of the British Embassy by Iranian protesters outraged over London’s decision to intensify sanctions against Tehran.

Following the incident, Britain withdrew its diplomatic staff from Tehran and asked Iran’s mission to leave.

Iran’s Parliament had already voted to downgrade bilateral diplomatic relations.

“An article of the Majlis bill authorized the Foreign Ministry to upgrade relations to the level of ambassador if circumstances warranted,” Boroujerdi said.

“As far as I know, the visa issue has not been adequately dealt with [by London]. We should not have made such a unilateral concession by agreeing to upgrade relations while Iranians still have to travel to other countries to apply for a British visa.”

After the government of President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, the two sides launched diplomatic efforts to mend ties.

The British Embassy in Tehran reopened in August 2015 in a ceremony attended by then foreign secretary, Philip Hammond.

Hammond’s visit to Iran was the first by a top British diplomat in 12 years.

Simultaneously, Iran reopened its embassy in London, but relations remained limited to the level of charge d’affaires.

Iran’s new ambassador, Hamid Baeidinejad, and his British counterpart, Nicholas Hopton, submitted their credentials last Monday.

Baeidinejad has served as Foreign Ministry’s political director and was a senior negotiator representing Iran in the talks with major powers, which resulted in the July 14 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

  Appointment With an Eye on JCPOA

Boroujerdi said the appointment of a diplomat privy to the nuclear negotiations could help facilitate the implementation of last year’s nuclear accord.

“In view of Baeidinejad’s deep knowledge of the JCPOA, Britain’s support for the US approach and [US] lack of full commitment to the nuclear agreement, we hope that his experience can help further national interests.”

The veteran lawmaker was using an acronym that stands for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal title of the accord that took effect in mid-January.

Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions, a development that raised the prospect of boosting foreign trade and, by extension, an economic revival.

However, non-nuclear US sanctions have remained in place to dim that prospect by threatening to heavily penalize any international bank or firm that engages in transaction with any Iranian counterpart linked to individuals or entities on a US blacklist.