Thursday 14 December 2017

UK is ready to engage with Iran

Andrew Woodcock

Britain stands ready to welcome Iran back as a full member of the international community if Tehran gives up its military nuclear ambitions, Prime Minister David Cameron said today following the election of a reformist-backed candidate in the country's presidential elections.

The election of Hassan Rouhani - widely seen as the most moderate of six candidates - has raised the prospect of a thaw in Tehran after years of confrontation with the international community under unpredictable hardliner Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

In a speech after his victory was announced on Saturday, President Rouhani asserted Iran's readiness to improve its ties with the rest of the world, which have long been bedevilled by suspicions of Mr Ahmedinejad's nuclear ambitions.

Speaking at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland today, Mr Cameron made clear that the UK is ready to respond to signals of a change of approach in Iran.

"I've always believed that the right approach on Iran is to engage, to make a clear offer to the Iranians that there is a different path for them," said Mr Cameron in a round of TV interviews at Lough Erne.

"If they don't go down the path of nuclear weapons, then they can become a full part of the international community.

"Obviously, we will have to see how the new Iranian government reacts to that, but Britain will stand with America and others in continuing to make that offer."

In a message following Mr Rouhani's poll triumph, the Foreign Office said: "We call on him to use the opportunity to set Iran on a different course for the future: addressing international concerns about Iran's nuclear programme, taking forward a constructive relationship with the international community, and improving the political and human rights situation for the people of Iran."

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