Boris Johnson Discusses Economic Ties, JCPOA in Tehran

Johnson said London is eager to enhance bilateral relations with Tehran, stressing the need for continued consultations with the Iranian government
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) meets Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on Dec. 9.British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (L) meets Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on Dec. 9.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sat down with his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Saturday to discuss various aspects of Tehran-London relationship, particularly the future of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal and ways of deepening economic collaboration.

The two sides stressed the need for the full commitment of parties' obligations toward the two-year nuclear pact, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, IRNA reported.                               

The deal came into effect in January 2016 to lift international sanctions on Iran in return for confidence-building restrictions on its nuclear work, leading to a thaw in bilateral relations.

But the deal faces the fierce opposition of US President Donald Trump who has threatened to “terminate” the pact unless what he calls “serious flaws” are addressed.

Speaking in the meeting, Johnson said his government attaches high importance to the nuclear agreement and will fulfill its commitments under the deal.

Johnson also stressed the need for continued consultations with the Iranian government, saying London is eager to enhance bilateral relations with Tehran.

Zarif and Johnson also talked about the latest developments in the Middle East, at a time of high tensions in the region over Trump’s announcement that he will recognize Beit-ul-Moqaddas as the capital of Israel.

   Constructive Visit

In remarks prior to his Iran trip on Saturday, Johnson said his first visit to Iran, the third by a UK foreign secretary since 2003, is an opportunity to hold discussions on a series of crucial issues.

“Iran is a significant country in a strategically important, but volatile and unstable, region which matters to the UK’s security and prosperity,” he said, adding that he will discuss various issues, including “how we can find a political solution to the devastating conflict in Yemen and secure greater humanitarian access to ease the immense suffering there”.

Johnson said he will also raise Britain’s concerns about “some of Iran’s activity in the region”, the Daily Telegraph reported.  “While our relationship with Iran has improved significantly since 2011, it is not straightforward and on many issues we do not agree. But I am clear that dialogue is the key to managing our differences and, where possible, making progress on issues that really matter, even under difficult conditions,” he said.

“I look forward to a constructive visit,” he added.

  Consular Cases

Johnson also said his discussions in Tehran will also include consular cases related to British citizens in Iran.  

“I will stress my grave concerns about our dual national consular cases and press for their release where there are humanitarian grounds to do so,” he said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said on Friday Johnson will attempt to free an Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Iran over security charges.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, claimed to be a charity worker affiliated with the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 just before she was taking the flight out of Iran.

She is now serving a five-year jail sentence for clandestine efforts to spread propaganda against the Iranian government.

Earlier on Saturday, Johnson held separate meetings with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani.

The top British diplomat is expected to hold talks with President Hassan Rouhani today, the second and last day of his trip. 

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