TEHRAN, Aug. 23 (UPI) — The United Kingdom and Iran reopened their respective embassies on Sunday as a coordinated move to signal improving relations following the recently-signed nuclear agreement.
U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond visited Tehran for the opening where he was met by Iranian representatives, including Ajay Sharma, the new U.K. charge d’affaires, representatives from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other diplomatic community members.
“Today’s ceremony marks the end of one long journey, and the start of a new, and, I believe, exciting one,” Hammond said. “Iran is, and will remain, an important country in a strategically important but volatile region. Maintaining dialogue around the world, even under difficult conditions, is critical.”
Relations between the U.K. and Iran deteriorated after after sanctions were imposed on the Islamist republic over its nuclear program. In 2011, a group of student protesters assaulted the embassy, which led to its closure. Britain then closed the Iranian embassy in London and ordered all Iranian diplomats to leave.
The move comes as Iran reached a nuclear deal last month with six other world powersover its nuclear development program.
“Last month’s historic nuclear agreement was another milestone, and showed the power of diplomacy, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to solve shared challenges,” Hammond said. “Reopening the embassy is the logical next step, to build confidence and trust between two great nations.”
U.S. President Barack Obama recently said the United States could take military action, or reassert sanctions, if Iran does not comply with the nuclear agreement. He added any U.S. or multilateral sanctions, brought about by Iran’s failure to uphold its end of the agreement, could not be blocked by any other country.
The embassies will have limited operations and a small staff at first, but will gradually begin offering more services. Talks for ambassadors will continue for the coming months.
“Over the coming months, we will work to ensure that the nuclear agreement is a success, including by making sure that it is fully implemented by all sides, and through this embassy’s efforts we will support British trade and investment, once sanctions are lifted. That will bring benefits for Britain and the Iranian people,” Hammond said.