Monday, February 17, 2020
Home > General > Iran Voices Hope for Closer Tehran-London Ties

Iran Voices Hope for Closer Tehran-London Ties

TEHRAN Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended greetings to the new Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson on his election, voicing hope that Tehran and London will strengthen bilateral ties during Johnson's premiership.

In a Sunday message, President Rouhani offered congratulations to Boris Johnson on his election as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, expressing hope for closer ties between Tehran and London under his leadership.

Rouhani referred to Johnson's 2017 visit to Tehran and his familiarity with Iran-UK relations as a positive point that can "contribute to removing the existing obstacles on the path of development of relations between the two countries.

"I hope that ... we witness further deepening of bilateral and multilateral relations during your tenure as the Prime Minister," the Iranian president said, wishing success for Johnson in his new position.

Back on Tuesday, Johnson won the leadership of the Conservative Party to become the UK's next prime minister, replacing outgoing Theresa May.

In comments made after Johnson's swearing-in, Rouhani had sent a positive signal to London, vowing that the UK will be given a "proportionate response" if it released the Iranian vessel.

We are not after keeping up tensions with certain European countries. If they abide by international regulations and stop taking unlawful measures like what they did in Gibraltar, they will receive a befitting response from Iran, Rouhani added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also sent a congratulatory message to Johnson shortly after his election, giving him assurances that "Iran does not seek confrontation."

On Saturday, Iranian Ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad strongly criticized UK's former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for weak performance as a top diplomat, who according to Baeidinejad escalated tensions and further complicated the case of an Iranian-British spy detained in Iran.

During Foreign Secretary Hunt's tenure, the UK's Iran policy was an abject failure; increasing tension and culminating in confrontation in the Persian Gulf after the UK's illegal confiscation of the Iranian oil tanker, Baeidinejad tweeted, referring to the British forces' detention of an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Major efforts (are) needed to de-escalate, and to move toward better understanding, the Iranian envoy added, calling for diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions between Tehran and London.

Baeidinejad then touched upon the case of an Iranian-British spy Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, hinting that Hunt's policies even prolonged the spy's release.

Mr. Hunt also wasn't able to help Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe's release, as he confused his role as a diplomat with that of a politician whose rhetoric is designed to satisfy the public. Had he continued the diplomacy his predecessor started, her case might've been resolved, he said.

Early in this month, during the Hunt's tenure as the top British diplomat, the UK seized an Iranian supertanker for allegedly violating unilateral European Union (EU) sanctions.

While Tehran denied that the supertanker was bound for Syria, it condemned the seizure as maritime piracy and warned that the move would not go unanswered.

Later, Spain said the UK had taken the action at the request of the United States.

Last Friday Iran impounded a British tanker for failing to respect international maritime rules.

Last Saturday, local outlets reported that the British government was drawing up plans to target Iran with sanctions in response to the Islamic Republic's detainment of the British tanker.

Hunt was expected to use a House of Commons statement to announce a package of diplomatic and economic measures, including possible asset freezes.

Meanwhile, Richard Burgon, member of the British opposition Labour Party, suggested that Britain had to resist serving the United States in reaction to the Islamic Republic's capture of the British vessel.

British officials should not become the messengers or sidekicks for US President Donald Trump over Iran's seizure of the UK-flagged tanker, he said.

I think we can play a very positive role in this... Our role is to speak up for conflict resolution, de-escalation, the nuclear deal, Burgon said, adding, But what we don't want to do is end up being the messengers or sidekicks of Donald Trump.

Source: Fars News Agency