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Canada Should Abandon Hostility Toward Iran

Canada Should Abandon Hostility Toward IranCanada Should Abandon Hostility Toward Iran

A lawmaker said Ottawa should prove to Iran that it has abandoned hostility if it wishes to restore its Tehran ties, as expert-level talks between the two countries on rapprochement are underway.

The Canadian government closed its embassy in the Iranian capital and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave the North American country in September 2012.

The unexpected decision was made by former hardline Canadian premier Stephen Harper, citing, among other pretexts, what he described as "continued threats from Iran to Israel".

Asghar Salimi, an independent lawmaker, told ICANA on Wednesday that the new Canadian government, whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly expressed willingness to reopen Canada's Embassy in Tehran, should be prevented from repeating the past mistake.

Expert-level talks aimed at normalizing relations were initiated several months ago in a third country, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi.

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

Qasemi said in a weekly press briefing on Monday that as a first step for normalizing relations, the two countries should consider establishing interests sections in diplomatic premises of third countries.

Salimi said he backs the establishment of an Iranian interests section in Canada, as it will provide thousands of Iranian citizens living there with consular services, but warned that further steps toward normalization "should be taken gradually, as Canada proves it will not repeat past [anti-Iran] measures".

The Italian Embassy has been handling Canada's interests in Iran since 2013 and Iran's assets in Canada have been protected by the Oman Embassy. The two embassies will most likely host interests sections.

Trudeau came to office in the 2015 election on a promise of change, including changes in foreign policy. He has criticized Harper for the decision four years ago to cut ties with Iran, which he said was made on "political and ideological" grounds. In April, Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion acknowledged that the break in relations "had no positive consequences for anyone: not for Canadians, not for the people of Iran, not for Israel and not for global security".

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