London, 20 Aug – British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, will formally reopen the UK embassy in Tehran this weekend, nearly four years after it was shut down as a result of a mob attack, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
Hammond’s trip to Iran, the first by a British foreign secretary in nearly 14 years, comes soon after visits from the French and Italian foreign ministers, Germany’s vice-chancellor, and the EU’s foreign policy chief.
Hammond will be accompanied on his visit by a handful of British business leaders as well as the Foreign Office political director, Sir Simon Gass, who represented Britain in the marathon talks leading up to the 14 July nuclear agreement between Iran and the major world powers.
The UK ambassador’s residence and some of the embassy buildings in Tehran have been restored since they were stormed and ransacked in November 2011 by a crowd of activists rallied by hardliners. The mob included members of the paramilitary Bassij, under the control of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The protesters climbed the walls of the embassy, burned the British flag and looted property from the living quarters.
The reopened British embassy will be staffed initially by a small number of diplomats led by Ajay Sharma, who has been non-resident chargé d’affaires since 2013, the Guardian said. A new British ambassador has been chosen but not yet announced.