( AFP ) - A group of MPs is visiting Iran for talks with top officials, a rare trip by an official British delegation to the Islamic republic, diplomats said Thursday.
The eight MPs from the foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons arrived on Monday for their four-day visit, which included talks with top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Led by committee chairman Mike Gapes, they also met Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, parliament speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel and judiciary advisor on international affairs Mohammad Javad Larijani.
"They are conducting research for use in a forthcoming report on global security, of which Iran will be a part," a British embassy spokesman said.
The last such visit by the committee was in October 2003.
The state news agency IRNA said Jalili, who took over from the more moderate Ali Larijani last month, told the delegation late Wednesday that dialogue should continue to find a solution to the crisis on the Iranian nuclear drive.
But he added: "Double standards in the behaviour of certain countries on Iran's nuclear programme is not constructive."
Haded Adel on Tuesday meanwhile said the West needs to make a new assessment "of its ties with Iran based on realities after the victory of the Islamic Revolution," state media reported.
Full British-Iranian diplomatic relations were only restored in 1999 after ties were cut over the fatwa issued by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for the killing of writer Salman Rushdie.
But ties remain prickly, not least because of Iranian anger over London's staunch support of the United States, particularly in the war against Iraq and the standoff on the Iranian nuclear programme.
Underlining the remaining suspicion, Iran's intelligence minister said Wednesday that former nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian has been charged with giving classified information to the British embassy.
In March, relations between Tehran and London suffered their biggest crisis since the Rushdie affair when Iran captured 15 British sailors accused of trespassing into Iranian waters.
They were later released after two weeks in detention.