The British foreign secretary's planned trip to Iran was postponed because of Hizbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's impromptu visit, said Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi.
"Tehran placed great importance on the impromptu visit of Mr. Nasrallah due to Lebanon's capital role in Iranian diplomacy, we therefore requested that Mr. Cook's visit be postponed," declared Kharazi in a meeting with members of the Journalists Guild in Tehran.
Nasrallah is in Tehran where he arrived on a state visit last Tuesday.
Cook's much awaited visit was postponed for a second time on June 28th, "owing to a busy schedule and foreign travel commitment of doctor Kharazi, the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said a British foreign office spokeswoman.
The postponement came on the same day as a call by a cross-party group of parliamentarians for the British government to take a tougher line in its dealings with Tehran.
The visit was initially scheduled for May and was postponed due to its proximity to the legislative elections in Iran.
"Both foreign ministers are keen for the visit to proceed, and will be consulting to find a mutual convenient date," the spokeswoman said.
Cook's trip is to be the first by a British foreign secretary since the 1979 Iranian revolution, and comes as part of a gradual thaw in relations between Britain and the Islamic republic.
Kharazi visited Britain in January and hailed the "promising" new era of relations that could bring much-needed trade boosts to both sides.
But the trip was shrouded in controversy, with the Iranian foreign minister hounded by egg-throwing dissidents at every turn, as opponents of the Iranian regime protested bitterly that Britain was doing business with a country with a dubious human rights record - TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )