British Charge D'affaires Willing to Improve Ties with Iran

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Britain's new charge d'affaires to the Islamic Republic expressed his gratitude to the Iranian officials for facilitating his trip, saying he plans to visit Iran on a regular basis to pave the way for resumption of diplomatic ties between Tehran and London.

British Charge D'affaires Willing to Improve Ties with Iran

“I intend to visit Iran regularly to continue the step by step process of improving relations between our two countries,” the new British non-resident charge d'affaires to Iran, Ajay Sharma was quoted as saying by the UK government website on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the British envoy arrived in Iran’s capital of Tehran, a sign that strained relations between the two countries are on the mend.

Ajay Sharma, previously head of the Foreign Office's Iran department, has been appointed to the non-resident post.

In an effort to repair strained relations, Britain and Iran announced in early October that each would appoint a non-residing chargé d’affaires, a rank below ambassador, to work toward resuming full diplomatic ties.

The diplomats will remain in their own countries, but will discuss reopening of embassies in London and Tehran.

Iran has also appointed Mohammad Hassan Habibollahzadeh as the country’s non-resident chargé d’affaires to Britain.

“I had a good first visit back to Tehran today and want to thank the Iranian authorities, particularly my counterpart Mr Habibollahzadeh, for facilitating the trip. I held detailed and constructive discussions with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about taking forward our bilateral relationship on a step by step and reciprocal basis,” the new British envoy added.

The move to restore relations came after the British foreign secretary, William Hague, met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in late September. The two top diplomats reached the final agreement in phone talk some days afterwards.

On November 27, 2011, a large majority of Iranian MPs voted to downgrade diplomatic ties with Britain, following Britain's decision to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.

Later angry Iranian students stormed the British embassy in Tehran and pulled down that country’s flag.

After the incident, Britain withdrew its diplomatic staff from the country on November 30 and asked Iran’s diplomatic delegation in London to leave within 48 hours.

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