News / Middle East

Expelled, Iranian Diplomats Leave London

A removals worker carries a box  out of the residential annex of the Iranian embassy in central London December 2, 2011.
A removals worker carries a box out of the residential annex of the Iranian embassy in central London December 2, 2011.
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Expelled Iranian diplomats packed up Iran's London embassy on Friday, as crowds staged new anti-Britain protests in Tehran.

Embassy staff were to leave Britain by 1400 GMT on Friday - a deadline given by the British government after the ransacking of its embassy in Tehran earlier this week.

The Iranian flag was still flying outside Iran's London embassy early Friday as staff loaded boxes into a moving truck and ducked in and out of the building to avoid the media.

Meanwhile, crowds gathered after Friday prayers at Tehran University, chanting "Death to Britain." A senior cleric rallied the protesters with a warning against other Western countries not to follow in Britain's footsteps.

Tensions between Britain and Iran worsened on Tuesday when protesters smashed windows and ransacked offices at the British embassy in Tehran.

The British government has since moved to expel Iranian officials from Britain, pulled its own diplomats from Tehran and backed new sanctions against Iran.

Four other European countries, including France and Germany, have also pulled top diplomats from their Tehran embassies. The European Union has since tightened sanctions against Iran, and the United Nations Security Council has condemned the violence.

The attack came after Britain and other Western nations placed new sanctions on Tehran's central bank over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

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

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