Iran-UK Dialogue Can Boost Regional Stability: Rouhani

Elias Hubbard
December 12, 2017

The regional situation is such that one should not fan its flames, President Rouhani said in a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Tehran on Sunday, adding that the United States president's plan to move the USA embassy to Quds was a "wrong decision" that adds fuel to the fire in the region.

Challenged about his own gaffe over Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe last month the Foreign Secretary insisted Tehran had told him it had no bearing on her case.

Speaking in the Commons, the Foreign Secretary said he didn't want to give "false hope" about the fate of the British mum jailed on trumped up charges.

But he said he had raised "complex consular cases" in each of his bilateral meetings in Tehran including with President Hassan Rouhani. This is undoubtedly a good sign.

"Both spoke forthrightly about the obstacles in the relationship and agreed on the need to make progress in all areas", said a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office after Johnson concluded what was only the third visit to Iran by a British foreign minister in the past 14 years.

Mr Johnson told MPs: "In each of those conversations, I repeated, as I have said to the House, the case for release on humanitarian grounds where that is appropriate for the hard consular cases that we have in Iran".

Despite hoped advances on this issue, Johnson faced criticism from Rouhani who attacked the UK's lukewarm relations with Iran despite Tehran agreeing a nuclear deal with world powers.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was expected to have five years added to her sentence after blundering Boris declared in Parliament she was teaching journalism in Iran.

Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who met with Johnson on December 9, said other European countries have put in "much more effort" to build ties in the aftermath of the nuclear deal.

"You haven't even solved the banking problems of the Iranian Embassy in London", Larijani told Johnson, according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.

The Ratcliffes have always maintained the Thomson Reuters employee was on a family holiday.

He also hailed Iran's positive measures for regional peace and stability and said Britain deems the USA plan to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Quds inappropriate.

Johnson faced calls to resign last month after saying in Parliament that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been "training journalists" in Iran prior to her arrest past year, comments that critics said could lead to an extended prison sentence for her.

The address to the House came a day after Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe said there was "light at the end of the tunnel" after Boris Johnson's intervention.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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