British ambassador says successful on Tehran mission

TEHRAN, Apr. 24 (MNA) – In his last press conference in Tehran, Nicholas Hopton, the UK envoy to Tehran, who will be replaced by Rob Macaire on Thursday, said that he had been successful in pursuing the goals in his mission to Tehran.

“I am very happy with my accomplishments in bilateral relations during the course of my term in Iran,” said Nicholas Hopton, the British diplomat on the last day of his stay in Iran as the UK ambassador to Tehran, on Tuesday. He made the remarks in response to questions posed by the reporters of Mehr News Agency and some other Iranian news outlets. On Thursday Robert Macaire will arrive in Tehran to assume the posting while Hopton will leave Tehran a day earlier, on Wednesday.

During the press conference on Tuesday, a reporter asked the British diplomat if the rumors about western embassies in Tehran taking bribe for issuing visas were connected with his early dismissal. He rejected that UK embassy in Tehran had done anything illegal in terms of providing visa services in Tehran and reassured that nothing was unusual in his replacement with Mr. Macaire.

Then he was asked why the British embassy is not meeting the expectations of Iranian visa applicants, as there are many Iranian people who have family in UK and want to visit Britain but are not given visa on time and proportionately.

In response he said that he has been doing his best, and after the reopening of embassy in Tehran, the relations have been growing and as a result the number of visas increasing. He said that currently the embassy is issuing 250 visa in a week.

Then the diplomat was asked by the Tehran Times reporter if he saw himself successful in materializing the objectives of Britain in Iran. The ambassador said that his term in Tehran was important in two aspects of reopening of diplomatic relations with the reopening of the embassies of Iran and UK in London and Tehran.

He hailed that the embassy was opened in Tehran in August 2015 and visa issuance was provided since February 2016. He added that since the sigihgng of the JCPOA the embassy has been collaborating with Iran to lift all sanctions and commercial interactions between the two countries have doubled and increased to half a billion euros. Hopton said that now British products are gaining their own share of market in Iran.

On difficulties obstructing the expansion of ties, the envoy said that there are problems but at the same time the two sides are talking and having dialogue on differences is the positive side of the story. He added that Iran and UK are having different approaches to regional issues in Syria and Yemen but they are keeping to have dialogue.

On UK probable response to US possible exit from the nuclear agreement, something that Mehr News asked him, Hopton said that the British position is quite clear and it has been reiterated by PM Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that interests of all sides is in continuation of the nuclear agreement.

Then the UK envoy to Tehran was asked about the unilateral attack on Syria in which France and UK accompanied US. The reporters asked him how the unilateral action could be legal and legitimate while it was not authorized by the UNSC or the OPCW had not given out his final verdict on the alleged chemical attack on Douma. Mr. Hopton claimed that humanitarian reasons urged the British government to act. He said that UK was sure that “Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people.”

Then Mehr News agency reporter told him that some commentators are drawing parallel between the unilateral attack of last week on Syria and UK alignment with US in 2003 attack on Iraq. Reminded him that at that time US provided evidence at UNSC to win the yes vote for attack on Iraq but later it was found that there was no chemical attack facility in Iraq and even the then UK PM Blaire was seriously censured in Britain. Mr. Hopton said in response that the two issues are of different nature and he could not draw a parallel between the two events.

By: Yasser Nazifi Gilavan

News Code 133597


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