Iran Reports Talks on Resuming Consular Relations With UK

On Sunday, PressTV quoted Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Iranian Expatriates Affairs Hassan Qashqavi as saying that Iran and the UK are in talks to resume consular relations. Yesterday, Mehr News further reported details on how the relations would begin working. As of this writing, I can find no mention of this development in UK or US media.

Recall that the UK expelled all Iranian diplomats and closed down its Tehran embassy after students stormed the British embassy in late November of 2011.

Here is the PressTV report on resumption of consular relations:

Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Iranian Expatriates Affairs Hassan Qashqavi says Tehran is in talks with London to resume consular relations.

“We are working with the UK for the resumption of consular services,” Qashqavi said on Sunday.

The article went on to note that despite the closure of the embassies in Tehran and London, “Iran’s Foreign Ministry Department for Consular Affairs has successfully handled more than 80 percent of cases submitted by Iranians residing in Canada and the UK”. It also noted that Oman represents Iran’s interests in London.

The Mehr News article repeats the same information, adding that Iran has “agreed with the British government that Sweden host its Interests Section in Tehran”.

What stands out to me from the Mehr News article is this paragraph:

British Foreign Secretary William Hague withdrew British diplomats and shuttered the Tehran embassy after it was attacked in 2011 by a mob, which he claimed had the backing of the government. Iranian diplomats in London were also expelled.

It seems interesting that Iran would repeat Hague’s accusation that the storming of the British embassy had the backing of the Iranian government. They clearly leave it as an accusation from Hague, but they also take no steps to refute the accusation. I wonder if public acknowledgment of the government’s involvement in the storming was one of the conditions for moving ahead on relations.

Going back to the storming of the British embassy in 2011, BBC had this to say regarding the cause:

Tuesday’s attack by hundreds of protesters followed Britain’s decision to impose further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

With the US in the lead, the sanctions against Iran have only continued to tighten since then, and PressTV reported last summer that the Iranian parliament was against improving diplomatic relations with the UK at that time.

We can only hope that the move now to improve diplomatic relations between the UK and Iran is a sign that the P5+1 process may finally be making headway on a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear activities. At the very least, it should be noted that Iran’s claim of improving diplomatic relations comes at the same time as yesterday’s technical background meeting in the P5+1 process. Although neither Western nor Iranian news reports on yesterday’s meeting claimed breakthroughs were made, the fact of the technical meeting was noted, along with stating that it provides important detail leading up the upcoming negotiating meeting next month. Will there be good news from the April meetings?

4 replies
  1. TarheelDem says:

    So restoration of normal diplomatic relations rests on Iranian commitment not to use attacks on embassies as a political tool. That is likely the sticking point with US normalization of relations as well, given the fact that the Iranian government in 1979 did not protect the US embassy but encouraged a standoff that was settled only when Reagan bought an election with weapons.

    Embassies being also intelligence stations figures very much in Iran’s considerations but allowing governments to to have good intelligence of one’s good faith is important if you are indeed not pursuing the imminent building of nuclear weapons.

    I suspect that resolution of the nuclear issue will also open the door to normalizing relations for the same reasons that the Cuban Missile Crisis led to a direct telephone line between the White House and the Kremlin.

  2. Rayne says:

    Wonder if this is a good-cop/bad-cop move; North Korea does bad cop last week with its crazy talk, now Iran looks sane reaching out to UK. Ugh. Headcases in leadership in both nation-states.

  3. TarheelDem says:

    @Rayne: Diplomatic posturing is most often about domestic politics. I would not characterize either North Korea or Iran as being run by headcases. They both have been proven rational and pragmatic actors within the context of their regime’s goals. And both countries, like the US, take actions based on collective decisions of their national security and foreign policy elites, with the head of state fronting the decision both in terms of tone and content.

  4. Rayne says:

    @TarheelDem: We’ll have to agree to disagree. These countries are fronted by whack jobs, or people who allow themselves too easily to be made out to be whack jobs. And run by people who must use puppets, even if they act rationally much of the time. That they need to use puppets and cannot do so effectively undermines their ability to meet their own agendas.

    Seriously, how hard is it to put together a brand and manage it on a global basis? It ain’t.

    Pick just one item on their agenda, one that’s mutual and legitimate: the consistent production of electricity for their countries’ citizens, for example. Every single country and citizen in the world can understand this need. But they can’t even find a way to come out and say that succinctly to the rest of the globe without resorting to saber-rattling?

    And don’t get me started on the lack of rationality behind banning university women from studying many majors. It was one of the bright spots they had over the U.S., that Iran had a far greater percentage of women in sci-tech, with stellar examples like Anousheh Ansari putting U.S. to shame. Rational and pragmatic. Hah. Another lost opportunity, cutting their nose off to spite their face.

    It’s a pity that NK has to do some crazy-ass stupid to make Iran look palatable, when both countries could simply use some better marketing.

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