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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs