Hague Says U.K.-Iran Ties Might Improve Under Rohani

The U.K. will respond to any moves by Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani to improve ties, Foreign Secretary William Hague said as he announced that Britons are no longer advised against travel to Iran under any circumstances.

“We will respond in good faith to positive action by Iran,” Hague told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in London today, asked whether Rohani’s election provided an opportunity. “We are ready to improve our relations on a step-by-step basis.” He cautioned that Iran’s power structure is “very complex,” and it’s unsure how much authority Rohani will have.

The Foreign Office amended its travel advice on Iran on its website today, dropping a recommendation not to travel anywhere in the country. The new advice warns against all but essential travel to most of the country and against all travel to parts of eastern Iran, including the Afghan and Pakistani borders.

“We assess the risks to British nationals have reduced,” Hague told the panel. “Anti-British rhetoric has been lessened.”

Rohani won more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round of Iran’s presidential election in June to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose anti-Israel rhetoric and questioning of the Holocaust made Iran a pariah. Rohani pledged after winning to make Iran’s nuclear program more transparent, seeking to ease tension with the U.S and reduce sanctions that have crippled the economy.

Rohani, who takes office in August, said last month he’s committed to his campaign promise to pursue a constructive foreign policy. “Moderation in foreign policy doesn’t mean surrender or conflict; it doesn’t mean passivity or confrontation; but rather effective and constructive interaction with the world,” he said on state television on June 29.

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