Iran General NewsLondon urges Tehran to maintain ties

London urges Tehran to maintain ties


ImageReuters: Britain denied interfering in Iran's internal affairs on Monday and said it would be regrettable if Tehran downgraded its relations with London.
ImageLONDON (Reuters) – Britain denied interfering in Iran's internal affairs on Monday and said it would be regrettable if Tehran downgraded its relations with London.

The Foreign Office published an open letter from Britain's Ambassador to Tehran, Simon Gass, to a senior Iranian member of parliament in response to recent calls by some Iranian parliamentarians to cut ties with Britain.

Iranian officials have repeatedly accused Western powers, including Britain, of fomenting street protests that erupted after the Islamic Republic's disputed election last June.

Britain is pushing for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, which Western powers suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says the programme is peaceful.

In the letter to Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's foreign policy and national security commission, Gass said any decision by parliament to downgrade relations with Britain "would be regrettable."

Gass said it was "entirely untrue" that Britain or its embassy in Tehran were interfering in Iran's domestic affairs.

He described as absurd newspaper reports that embassy staff bribed demonstrators and said Britain would continue to comment where it saw evidence that international agreements on human rights signed by Iran were not being respected.

Iranian media reported last month that dozens of Iranian members of parliament had proposed cutting relations with Britain. ISNA quoted Boroujerdi at the time as saying the proposal was hasty.

In late December, Iran summoned Gass and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki threatened Britain with a "slap in the mouth" if it did not stop interfering in Iranian affairs.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband had criticised Iranian authorities after eight people were killed in anti-government protests on December 27.

Even if the parliament voted to cut or scale back relations with Britain, such a move must be approved by a powerful legislative body, the Guardian Council.

Iran has been convulsed by its most serious domestic unrest since the Islamic revolution in 1979, as protests by opposition supporters against the election result have turned violent. Authorities deny opposition allegations that voting was rigged.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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