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

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More