Britain sets stage for renewing full diplomatic ties with Iran

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“It is clear that the new president and ministers in Iran are presenting themselves and their country in a much more positive way than in the recent past,” Hague said. “There is no doubt that the tone of the meetings with them is different. We must test the Iranian Government’s sincerity to the full, and it is important that our channels of communication are open for that.”

The Obama administration has taken a more cautious approach, saying it “welcomes” the overtures from President Hassan Rouhani but wants to see transparent and verifiable concessions on Iran's nuclear program. Congress is more hawkish, with a number of lawmakers on both sides calling for new sanctions and echoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments that Rouhani is a “wolf in sheep's clothing.”

Here is Hague's full announcement:

“It is clear that the new President and Ministers in Iran are presenting themselves and their country in a much more positive way than in the recent past. There is no doubt that the tone of the meetings with them is different. We must test the Iranian Government’s sincerity to the full, and it is important that our channels of communication are open for that.

“Mr Zarif [Iranian Foreign Minister] and I have discussed how to improve the functioning of the UK-Iran bilateral relationship. Our diplomatic relations suffered a severe setback when our Embassy compounds in Tehran were overrun in 2011 and the Vienna Convention flouted, and when the Iranian Majles voted to downgrade relations with the UK.

“It is understood on both sides that given this history, progress in our bilateral relationship needs to proceed on a step-by-step and reciprocal basis. The Foreign Minister and I agreed our officials would meet to discuss this. The first such meeting has already taken place, and will be followed by a further meeting in Geneva next week. This includes discussion of numbers of and conditions for locally-engaged staff in the Embassy premises of each country and visits to inspect these premises. 

“I have made very clear to Mr Zarif that we are open to more direct contact and further improvements in our bilateral relationship. We have therefore agreed that both our countries will now appoint a non-resident Chargé d’affaires tasked with implementing the building of relations, including interim steps on the way towards eventual re-opening of both our Embassies, as well as dialogue on other issues of mutual concern.”

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