Hague to meet Iranian counterpart
Published 15/09/2013 | 17:36
Foreign Secretary William Hague is to meet the Iranian foreign minister in a sign of a possible thaw in relations with Tehran following the election of new President Hassan Rouhani.
The Foreign Office said the meeting with Mohammad Javad Zarif would take place in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month.
However officials were taken by surprise by a statement on Mr Rouhani's English language Twitter feed that the meeting would be with the Iranian president himself.
It stated: "#Tehran has responded positively to UK's request. President Rouhani's meeting w/@WilliamJHague on the sidelines of #UNGA has been confirmed."
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that there had been no request for a meeting between Mr Hague and Mr Rouhani.
"If we were to receive a request, we would be happy to decide on it," the spokeswoman said.
Officials will hope that the apparent diplomatic mix-up does not complicate attempts to reach out to the new president, seen as a moderate in Iranian terms.
Following his election earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron made the unusual move of writing to Mr Rouhani expressing the hope that there could be a step-by-step improvement in relations between the two countries.
Britain has not had a diplomatic presence in Iran since November 2011 when its embassy in Tehran was stormed by a mob, triggering one of the worst crises between the two countries since the 1979 Islamic revolution.