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Iran's Parliament Ready to Cut Ties with Britain


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures prior to an official welcoming ceremony for Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, unseen, in Tehran, Iran, 20 Dec 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures prior to an official welcoming ceremony for Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, unseen, in Tehran, Iran, 20 Dec 2010

Iranian lawmakers are moving forward with plans to sever diplomatic ties with Britain.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday lawmakers need to send London a serious message, and that a bill aiming to cut ties with Britain would be treated with urgency.

Iran's Fars new agency quoted Larijani as saying Iran needed to respond to what he called "the British government's positions" over the past year.

The Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee backed the legislation Sunday, but the motion requires the approval of the full parliament and of a constitutional watchdog to take effect.

Iran summoned British Ambassador Simon Gass last week after he criticized Tehran's human rights record in an article on the embassy's website.

Britain maintains a full embassy in Tehran, unlike the U.S., which has no relations with the Islamic Republic. Iran has repeatedly accused Britain of supporting anti-government protests during the 2009 post-election turmoil, a charge London denies.

The legislation runs counter to recent comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for more dialogue with Western powers.

On Saturday, he said world powers should "engage" and "cooperate" with Iran, rather than confront it.

The Iranian president also hailed this month's talks on Iran's nuclear program and said the "best way" is for the two sides to move toward cooperation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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