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U.K. Signals New Offer to Iran as Iraq Fights Militants

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague signaled plans to continue the restoration of diplomatic relations with Iran, driven by the advance of Sunni Muslim fighters in neighboring Iraq.

The U.K. shut its embassy in Tehran in December 2011 after it was raided by militants. In December 2013, he appointed a non-resident diplomat to Iran. Hague told Parliament today that he’d spoken to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on June 14, prompted by the gains made against Iraqi government forces of the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group.

Zarif “said there is a case for further steps forward in our bilateral relations,” Hague said. “I will have something more to say about that imminently, very imminently if you are here tomorrow.” While he refused to be drawn further, one option would be to re-open the British embassy in Tehran.

Hague said a British military operational liaison and reconnaissance team arrived in Iraq on June 14 to assist U.K. nationals in the country. He also gave an estimate of the number of Britons fighting in Syria, saying it was around 400. He said that “inevitably,” some of them would be fighting with ISIL, who captured Iraq’s largest northern city last week.

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