Iran, UK expansion of ties urged by both sides

TEHRAN, Sep. 05 (MNA) – Iran’s FM Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi expressed hope for improving relations with UK to the level of ambassadors, saying expansion of bilateral ties is being urged by both sides.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi made the remark in a press conference on Monday in Tehran, adding “our relations with the UK have been at times through ups and downs, and once it was severed completely, but attempts were made to revive the ties which resulted in the two countries’ embassies being reopened and diplomatic relations established at the level of charge d'affaires.”

To a question about the measures by the Foreign Ministry in regard to Mina tragedy which claimed the lives of 4,700 people, including more than 460 Iranians, during Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca on Sep. 24, 2015, he said “once the tragic incident occurred and before the return of Iranian pilgrims’ bodies to our country, several committees were formed in the Foreign Ministry and settled a number of issues.”

He went on to add, “various organizations are present at these committees, following up on legal mechanisms. The issue was also pursued at the regional level, but due to severed relations with Saudi Arabia, the process has encountered some problems.”

“We have had no consultations with Oman as a mediator between Tehran and Riyadh over the Mina tragedy,” he clarified.

Ghasemi dismissed concerns over Iran’s cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), saying “cooperation with the FATF is not self-sanctioning. The issue in the form of a bill had been sent to the Parliament during the previous government and was approved then.”

“Due to unjust sanctions and severed financial and monetary ties with the world, cooperation with FATF did not took center stage, but today with the easing of sanctions, we have entered a new level of trade and international cooperation that necessitates further cooperation with this international group,” Ghasemi clarified.

He maintained that cooperation with the FATF includes combating money-laundering and terrorist financing, adding “some raise Iran’s cooperation with Hezbollah as being threatened by joining the FATF, but we consider Hezbollah as a source of pride for the Islamic World; they are not a terrorist group. The region’s problem today is terrorist groups such as ISIL, Al-Nusra Front, Taliban and Al-Qaeda.”

About President Rouhani’s possible visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly’s meeting, he said “prior to New York, President Rouhani is scheduled to visit Venezuela which will take over the rotating presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) from Iran. Whether President Rouhani will make a trip to New York is still under discussion and the related news will be released to the public in due time.”

In regard to Turkey’s incursion in Syria, he said “the Turkish government must take such measures with the direct permit from the central government of Syria, and refrain from compromising other countries’ sovereignty.”

He went on to add that the date for Turkish President Erdogan’s visit to Tehran has not been decided yet, although preparations for the visit are being made. 

About Iran’s accession to ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), he said “we expected that talks on TAC would be held between Iran and ASEAN this Tuesday, but we were recently informed that their internal process for the treaty has not been completed yet. That is why we have postponed it to a later time.”

“The treaty is definite and will be implemented,” he stressed. 

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