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Gass Visit to Iran Aimed at Accelerating Improvement of Bilateral Ties.

TEHRAN (FNA)- The recent visit to Tehran by Britain's envoy to the Iran-world powers nuclear talks, Simon Gass, was aimed at speeding up efforts to improve the bilateral relations between Tehran and London, an Iranian spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

"Tehran and London are moving in a step-by-step and gradual trend in improving their bilateral ties and this visit and the consultations (done during it) provided an opportunity for the British foreign office's political official to have meetings with our foreign ministry officials and hold talks on the step-by-step trend of (enhancement of) relations and the regional and international issues," Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham told reporters in Tehran today. Stressing that many countries attach importance to Iran's views and stances on regional and international developments, she said, "Such consultations will help to the settlement of the existing crises in the region." Afkham said that Iran and Britain have experienced some pauses in their relations during the past decades, and betterment of ties needs some solutions for removing the existing obstacles. Simon Gass, the Foreign Office's Political Director, paid a daylong visit to the Iranian capital on Monday and met with a number of Iranian foreign ministry officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi, to discuss bilateral and international issues. Gass is Prime Minister David Cameron's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and the UK's lead negotiator at the Group5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) talks with Iran on its nuclear program. He was also Britain's ambassador to Iran from 2009 to 2011. Gass' visit follows a series of trips to Tehran by Britain's non-resident envoy, which marked the first visit by a UK diplomat to Iran since the embassies were closed. Iran's nonresident envoy to Britain has also visited London for talks. Relations between Iran and Britain hit an all-time low in November 2011, when the two countries shut down their diplomatic missions around Britain's key role in the imposition of a new set of Western sanctions against Iran and its repeated meddling with Iran's domestic affairs. Iran recalled all its staff and closed its embassy in London in November after Britain recalled its diplomatic mission in Tehran due to massive protests in front of the British embassy complex by thousands of Iranian students who demanded a cut of ties with London. The Iranian students' November 2011 protests at the British mission came after the Iranian legislators in an open session of the parliament the same month approved the bill of a law on downgrading relations with Britain. After the parliament approval, Iran expelled the British ambassador from Tehran. The parliament approval came a week after the US and Britain targeted Iranian financial sectors with new punitive measures, including sanctions on Iran's Central Bank and petrochemical industry. The sanction against CBI and Iran's petrochemical industry was adopted in a unilateral move by the US, Canada and Britain outside the UN Security Council as other council members, specially Russia and China, had earlier warned against any fresh punitive measure, including sanctions, against Iran. The British government has also embarked on delisting the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) from its list of terrorist groups. The Iranian lawmakers initially started drafting a bill to downgrade ties with London after Britain's direct involvement in stirring post-election unrests in Iran in 2009, but they intensified and accelerated the move after Gass, the then British ambassador to Tehran, criticized the human rights situation in Iran. "Today, International Human Rights Day is highlighting the cases of those people around the world who stand up for the rights of others - the lawyers, journalists and NGO workers who place themselves at risk to defend their countrymen," Gass said in a memo published by the British Embassy in Tehran on December 9, 2010. "Nowhere are they under greater threat than in Iran. Since last year human rights defenders have been harassed and imprisoned," Gass added. Following Britain's support for a group of wild demonstrators who disrespected Islamic sanctities and damaged private and public amenities and properties in Tehran on December 27, 2009, members of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission drafted bill of a law requiring the country's Foreign Ministry to cut relations with Britain completely. The British government's blatant stance and repeated remarks in support of the last year unrests inside Iran and London's espionage operations and financial and media support for the opposition groups are among the reasons mentioned in the bill for cutting ties with Britain. Ee Ee Ee

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Publication:FARS News Agency
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Apr 29, 2014
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