News / Europe

    US, Britain Move to Improve Iran Relations

    US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, in London, Friday, June 13, 2014
    US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, left, in London, Friday, June 13, 2014
    Al Pessin
    Britain announced Tuesday it will re-open its embassy in Iran, three years after it was closed following an attack on the building by Iranian protesters.  The decision is the latest move by a Western nation to improve relations with Iran as the crisis in neighboring Iraq intensifies.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague made the announcement in parliament.  

    “We will be reopening our embassy in Tehran.  Initially, this will be with a small diplomatic team.  But it is an important step forward in our bilateral relations with Iran,” he said.

    Hague said Iran will also likely reopen its embassy in London.

    The foreign secretary said Britain would use the increased diplomatic contact in part to press Iran to end what he called “its support for sectarian groups.”  That was an apparent reference to Iraq, where Iran supports the Shi'ite government and other groups that the West has accused of alienating Sunnis and fueling support for Sunni extremist groups.

    One of those groups, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has taken control of several Iraqi cities during the past week, and has advanced to within 65 kilometers of Baghdad.

    The crisis has put Iran in the spotlight, and got this comment on Yahoo! News from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

    “We're open to discussions if there's something constructive that can be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and the ability of the government to reform,” said Kerry.

    One result was a brief high-level meeting between senior U.S. and Iranian officials to discuss Iraq on Monday in Vienna, where the two countries are the key players in talks on the future of Iran’s nuclear program.  

    State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that U.S. officials have spoken with Iran on other issues in recent years, including the situation in Afghanistan.  She characterized Monday’s meeting this way.

    “We’re not talking about coordinating any military action in Iraq with Iran. We would encourage Iran to push the Iraqis to act to address problems in a nonsectarian way,” said Psaki.

    But that has not been Iran’s policy so far.  It supported militant Shi'ite groups fighting U.S. and other international forces during Iraq’s civil war.  More recently, Iran has backed the increasingly sectarian Shi'ite Iraqi government.  

    At the Maplecroft risk assessment firm, analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt says the U.S. and British approaches to Iran show how concerned they are about the advance of the Sunni militants in Iraq.  But he says it carries considerable risks.

    “You could envision a situation where Sunni civilian populations could be killed in attacks carried out either by militias backed by Iran or even by Revolutionary Guard forces themselves.  In that kind of scenario, then the already bad sectarian tensions in Iraq could get even worse,” said Soltvedt.

    U.S. and British officials have stressed that they will urge Iran to take the opposite course, and push their Iraqi allies to moderate their sectarian tendencies.  

    But it is not clear whether Iran sees that as being in its interest.  Some analysts warn Iran might prefer the breakup of Iraq, with a militant Sunni entity in the west, the Kurdish enclave in the north, and a weakened government in Baghdad struggling to control the rest of the country.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ranjan from: india
    June 17, 2014 1:07 PM
    They just want oil from that country thats y they are going there,
    In Response

    by: Anthony from: 626
    June 17, 2014 4:31 PM
    Typical reply " they just want oil" ,, haha

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.