Boris Johnson meets top Iranian officials

December 9, 2017

TEHRAN – UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held talks on Saturday with senior Iranian officials, including his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed bilateral relations, including economic, banking and commercial ties. The sides also insisted on the importance of boosting cooperation both in the region and the wider world.

Johnson highlighted his country’s firm stance in supporting the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was reached between Iran and six world powers including Britain in July 2015.

The chief British diplomat, who arrived in Tehran after a visit to Oman, also met with Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

Shamkhani said since the JCPOA went into effect, economic relations between the two countries have not developed sufficiently, emphasizing that developing banking relations could be a first step for expansion of cooperation in other fields.

'Washington's conduct towards JCPOA a full-scale catastrophe'

The top security official also criticized the United States and European countries for not being fully committed to the nuclear deal.

“America’s behavior towards BARJAM (the Persian acronym for the nuclear deal) has been a full-scale catastrophe,” he said, adding that such misconduct would cast doubt on all international agreements.

The official said the other parties to the JCPOA were only passive observers of Washington's inappropriate behavior, adding that Iran would take necessary measures based on its national interests.

Johnson, for his part, underlined London’s unswerving support for the JCPOA, saying the deal was a multilateral and international agreement whose full implementation is to the benefit of international peace and stability.

According to ISNA, the British foreign secretary is also slated to meet President Hassan Rouhani, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi, and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

Johnson’s visit is his first to the region as foreign secretary, and the first to Iran by a British foreign secretary since 2015, the Foreign Office said.

In a statement ahead of his visit to Tehran, he described Iran as “a significant country”, to which his country attaches great importance.

“Iran is a significant country in a strategically important, but volatile and unstable, region which matters to the UK's security and prosperity,” he was quoted by The Telegraph as saying.

“My first visit is an opportunity to hold further discussions on a series of crucial issues, including how we can find a political solution to the devastating conflict in Yemen and secure greater humanitarian access to ease the immense suffering there.”

He also underlined the UK’s continued support for the Iran nuclear deal while making clear the British government’s concerns about what he called “Iran’s activity in the region.”

“While our relationship with Iran has improved significantly since 2011, it is not straightforward and on many issues we will not agree,” the chief diplomat said.

Underlining the importance of dialogue as the key to resolve differences between the two countries, Johnson said he was looking forward to “a constructive visit”.

He also voiced the British government’s concerns about “our dual national consular cases”, pointing to the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran since April 2016, as an important issue which he will try to resolve through dialogue.

MH/PA

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