British envoy to visit Tehran after two years: official
TEHRAN - Agence France-PresseBritain's new envoy to Tehran visits Iran Tuesday for the first time since a thaw in relations between the two countries who severed ties two years ago, his Iranian counterpart said Monday.
Hassan Habibollah-Zadeh told the official IRNA news agency that following that visit he would travel to London, reflecting the recent improvement of bilateral ties.
"As the first step, the British non-resident charge d'affaires Ajay Sharma arrives Tuesday in Tehran along with a delegation to visit British diplomatic buildings and hold talks with foreign ministry officials," IRNA quoted the Iranian diplomat as saying.
"Following that I will travel to London along with a delegation to study the situation of Iran's diplomatic buildings, improve consular services and hold talks with British officials," he added.
His remarks come amid a thaw in ties between Iran and the international community following the election in June of President Hassan Rouhani, a reputed moderate who has reached out to the West and who has steered his country into a landmark nuclear deal with major powers.
Britain ordered the closure of Iran's embassy in London after shuttering its own in Tehran following the storming of the compound by hundreds of Islamist students in November 2011.
The students -- protesting against Western sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme -- ransacked the building as well as the British ambassador's residence in north Tehran.
The two countries named the non-resident charges d'affaires -- a diplomatic post that is one level below ambassador -- last month.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision to name envoys was made after he met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in October on the sidelines of Geneva talks on Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.