UK

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond To Fly To Iran To Mark Reopening Of The British Embassy

20/08/2015 20:45 BST | Updated 20/08/2016 10:59 BST

Philip Hammond will visit Iran ahead of the UK embassy reopening almost four years after it was attacked by a mob in 2011. The recent nuclear deal eased tensions between London and Tehran, enabling Hammond to become the first British foreign secretary to visit the country since 2003.

A senior Government source confirmed that Hammond would fly to Iran over the weekend. The embassy was closed after it was ransacked by a locals protesting against the imposition of international sanctions. Some will be lifted in return for assurances that Iran's nuclear programme is not aimed at producing a weapon under the deal struck by the UK and five other nations in July.

Technical obstacles have plagued the reopening of the embassy for more than a year since Hammond’s predecessor William Hague first proposed it publicly. Tehran's reluctance to relax import laws has slowed the replacement of communications and other equipment taken out when the post was abandoned.

uk embassy in iran 2011

Protesters set fire to the British and Israeli national flags break in to the British Embassy during an anti-British demonstration in the Iranian capital on November 29, 2011 in Tehran, Iran

According to PA, the Home Office is working with the Iranian government on restoring a full visa service but there remain outstanding issues over Iranians who have overstayed their right to be in the UK

Re-opening the embassy could unsettle British allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, which have poor relations with Iran. Although Saudi Arabia has softened its stance on the July 14 deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains bitterly opposed to the accord and is reportedly lobbying the US Congress to block the deal.

Last month David Cameron moved to reassure Gulf allies that the nuclear deal will not result in any lessening of pressure on Tehran over its support for terrorism and its destabilising influence in the region.