Britain restores mission in Iran, but ‘too early to talk about US return’

Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif welcomes British foreignsecretary Philip Hammond. Picture: Vahid Salemi/AP

Iran’s foreign minister said yesterday that it was too early to talk of reopening the US embassy in Tehran, as Britain restored its diplomatic mission four years after protesters ransacked the British ambassador’s residence.

British foreign secretary Philip Hammond attended a ceremony at the opulent 19th century building in the Iranian capital where attackers in 2011 burned Britain’s national flag, slashed portraits of British monarchs, and stole goods.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, asked if Tehran would now countenance a restoration of the US diplomatic mission, said America’s “illogical attitude” towards Iran meant the time was not ripe for a similar move with Washington.

“It seems that there needs to be a change in that kind of attitude and behaviour on the part of the US. So the situation is different with the US,” he said.

The US embassy was sacked in the early days of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 by students who feared a repeat of a 1953 coup, when the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of Iran’s prime minister.

The ensuing US hostage crisis lasted 444 days, and Washington and Tehran have yet to restore diplomatic ties.

Iran reopened its embassy in London yesterday in a reciprocal move that followed a deal on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme reached last month with six major world powers, including Britain and the US.

President Barack Obama has promised to exercise his veto if the US Congress, dominated by Republicans opposed to the deal, rejects the agreement, which would start the process of lifting a raft of sanctions which have hurt Iran’s economy.



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