Britain to reopen embassy in Tehran

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will reopen its embassy in Iran this weekend nearly four years after protesters ransacked the elegant ambassadorial residence and burned the British flag.

The move marks a thawing of ties with Iran since it reached a nuclear deal with the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain.

“The foreign secretary (Philip Hammond) will travel to Iran to reopen our embassy there,” a British diplomatic source told Reuters on Thursday.

After more than a decade of casting the Islamic Republic as a rogue power seeking to sow turmoil through the Middle East, Britain has sought to improve ties with Iran, whose natural gas reserves are larger even than Russia’s.

Hammond will travel to Iran this weekend for the formal opening of the embassy on Sunday. He will take a small group of business leaders, including representatives from Royal Dutch Shell and other companies, with him on the trip, according to the source.

The British minister will have meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Ali Akbar Velayati, who is a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

With the business delegation, Hammond will meet the Iranian ministers of industries and business, petroleum and transport.

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