Britain Reopens Embassy in Tehran

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Tehran: Four years after attack, Britain’s foreign secretary on Sunday reopened his country’s embassy in Tehran, signaling improvements in bilateral ties between the countries. Britain had closed its embassy in Tehran after a mob stormed its compound in 2011.

Philip Hammond’s trip comes five weeks after Britain and five other world powers struck a deal with Iran to end a 13-year dispute over the Islamic republic’s disputed nuclear programme. He entered the embassy at noon (0730 GMT) and held a ceremony shortly afterwards in its garden with Ajay Sharma, the new charge d’affaires who will be Britain’s top diplomat in Tehran.

Iran’s embassy in London will also reopen on Sunday. The two countries are expected to appoint ambassadors in the coming months. Hammond was to later hold a press conference with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in the nearly two years of talks that have ended Tehran’s isolation from the West.

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Following the 2011 embassy attack, Britain said it could not have happened without the tacit consent of the Iranian regime at the time.

It erupted after Iran’s parliament voted to expel the British ambassador and reduce trade relations in retaliation for sanctions against Iran’s banking sector.

Students rampaged for hours through the diplomatic compound in downtown Tehran, tearing down the British flag, ripping up pictures of Queen Elizabeth II and trashing offices. Staff were seized by protesters.