Last updated: 11 November, 2013

Iran and Britain name envoys on path to restoring ties

Iran on Monday named a non-resident charge d’affaires to Britain, Fars news agency reported, as London announced the same step toward a restoration of diplomatic ties severed in 2011.

Mohammad Hassan “Habib-zadeh will travel to London in the near future to examine the situation of Iran’s possessions and buildings in Britain and to improve consular activities,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said, quoted by Fars.

The Foreign Ministry in London, meanwhile, named Ajay Sharma as its new non-resident charge d’affaires to Iran. “Mr Sharma will take up his appointment immediately,” it said in a statement.

Britain ordered the closure of Iran’s embassy in London after closing its own in Tehran following the storming of the compound by hundreds of angry Islamist students in November 2011.

They were protesting at Western sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear drive, and ransacked the building as well as the British ambassador’s residence in north Tehran.

However, after the surprise victory in June elections of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani as Iranian president with a pledge to engage the world constructively, London and Tehran have been working towards restoring ties.

The two sides agreed in October to assign non-resident charge d’affaires, a diplomatic post that is one level below ambassador.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif twice on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.