Iranian MPs seek to thaw ties with UK

Iranian MPs seek to thaw ties with UK

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 8

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

An Iranian parliamentary delegation left Tehran for London on March 8 to discuss bilateral relations with British MPs.

The visit takes place at the invitation of Jack Straw, the head of Britain-Iran parliamentary friendship group.

Iranian MP, Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani who heads the delegation said that the Islamic Republic MPs are scheduled to hold talks with the UK lawmakers on bilateral relations and address some problems affecting the mutual ties, the country's Tasnim news agency reported March 8.

The delegation was originally planned to visit London in November, but the trip was canceled following British Prime Minister David Cameron's remarks, which Iranian officials believe were anti-Iran.

Last September Cameron said "Iran's support for terrorist organizations, its nuclear program, its treatment of its people need to change," while addressing the UN General Assembly in New York.

Mansouri Arani, who is a member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that the Iranian team has decided to give the British lawmakers copies of the Quran, the holy book of Muslims, as a gift in reaction to the spread of Islamophobia in the West.

The Iran-UK relationship had long been tense because of disagreements over Iran's nuclear program. Relations were even more complicated by Iran's allegations of involvement of the UK security services in organizing terrorist acts in Tehran on November 29, 2010 that killed nuclear physicist Majid Shahriari.

On November 27, 2011, Iranian lawmakers voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, in response to Britain's decision to impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran over the allegation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear program.

Two days after the decision by the Iranian parliament, hundreds of Iranian students staged a protest outside the British Embassy in Tehran and pulled down the UK flag.

On November 30, 2011, London cut off its ties with Tehran, withdrew its diplomatic staff from Iran and the Iranian Embassy in London was closed.

Follow the author on Twitter: @UmidNiayesh

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