U.K. Set to Open Tehran Embassy Amid Conflict in Iraq

U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain will reopen its embassy in Tehran, closed after a raid by extremists in 2011, in a sign that the advance of Sunni militants in Iraq is encouraging diplomacy with Iran.

Hague signaled the move yesterday in a statement to Parliament on Iraq. Today he confirmed it in a written communique. “The circumstances are right to reopen our embassy in Tehran,” Hague said. “It is our intention to reopen the embassy in Tehran with a small initial presence as soon as these practical arrangements have been made.”

Hague said relations with the government in Tehran have been improving over recent months, following his appointment of a non-resident diplomat to Iran in December. He said trips back and forth by officials from the two countries have “allowed us to discuss a broad range of issues, including areas where we and Iran have sharply differing views.”

Today’s move came after Hague spoke directly to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on June 14. That call was prompted by gains made against Iraqi government forces by militants from the group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, who captured Iraq’s largest northern city last month.

Hague said the British presence will be small at first, and Iranians requiring U.K. visas will still have to obtain them in Istanbul or Abu Dhabi.

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