Writing’s on the wall in Iran, where ‘Death to England’ still greets UK embassy visitors

Writing’s on the wall in Iran, where ‘Death to England’ still greets UK embassy visitors
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Published August 24th, 2015 - 09:51 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Iranian protesters break into the British embassy in Tehran on Nov. 29, 2011. (AFP/File)
Iranian protesters break into the British embassy in Tehran on Nov. 29, 2011. (AFP/File)
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Foreign secretary Phillip Hammond has flown to Tehran nearly four years after pro-regime protesters ransacked the British ambassadorial residence in the Iranian capital in protest at tougher sanctions over its nuclear program.

At the time, protesters slashed portraits of British monarchs, torched a car and stole electronic equipment.

And graffiti saying "Death to England" still remains on the doors to a grand reception room in memory of the storming.

Despite the Vienna Convention requiring national governments to safeguard all diplomatic premises, the cost of making the British Embassy fit to be reopened has been entirely covered by the Foreign Office.

The election of Hassan Rouhani has led to relations between the two countries improving dramatically, following Iran’s landmark nuclear deal. In June last year, the then Foreign Secretary William Hague proposed the reopening of the embassy.

Hammond becomes only the second UK foreign secretary to visit the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution, as he flew to Tehran for a ceremony that marks the reopening of the embassies of the two respective countries.

On arrival in Tehran, Hammond tweeted: "First British Ministerial visit since 2003. Historic moment in UK-Iran relations."

"Our relationship has improved since 2011. Four years on from an attack on the British embassy, I am today re-opening it," said Hammond.

Remaining slightly cautious, Hammond added: "This move does not mean that we agree on everything. But it is right that Britain and Iran should have a presence in each other's countries. The role of embassies is to build co-operation where we agree and to reduce our differences where we don't."

By Shehab Khan

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