Talks on Canada Rapprochement Underway

Talks on Canada Rapprochement Underway Talks on Canada Rapprochement Underway

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tehran and Ottawa are holding expert-level talks with the aim of normalizing relations that soured four years ago.

Bahram Qasemi, speaking in his weekly press briefing on Monday, said the talks, which started several months ago, are being held in a third country and a recent meeting between Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif with his Canadian counterpart, Stephane Dion, was part of this process.

The first meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers after the severance of diplomatic relations was held in New York last Tuesday, on the sidelines of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The spokesman said it is important for Iran to provide thousands of Iranians living in Canada with consular services and the North American country wants to reopen its embassy in Iran, an important country with influence across West Asia.

"We should wait to see where these expert talks will go. If we can settle some political and legal differences, these negotiations can lead to a transformation in bilateral relations that were unilaterally cut by Canada," Qasemi said.

In September 2012, the former Canadian administration severed diplomatic contacts with Iran, citing, among other pretexts, what it called "continued threats from Iran to Israel".  Canada shut its embassy in Tehran and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave the North American country.

However, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who came to office in the 2015 election on a promise of change, has expressed willingness on several occasions to reopen Canada's Embassy in Tehran.  

Asked about the recent meeting between Zarif and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, which was also held on the sidelines of the UNGA, Qasemi said the talks can provide a basis for closer consultations between Tehran and Cairo.

Iran and Egypt have not had diplomatic relations since 1980. Iran broke off ties with Egypt after Cairo offered asylum to Iran's the former deposed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and also due to Egypt's 1978 Camp David Accords with the Israeli regime.