Monday April 22, 2019
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British embassy in Tehran reopens four years after closure

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Tehran: The British embassy in Iran reopened on Sunday, nearly four years after it was closed. Iran’s embassy in London also opened simultaneously. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond arrived in Tehran on Sunday for the reopening of the embassy that was closed in 2011 after it was stormed by protesters during a demonstration against sanctions against Iran.

Hammond’s visit comes weeks after Iran reached a deal with P5+1 group of world powers aimed at curbing its nuclear program. European officials have been quick to visit Tehran since July 14, when Iran struck a deal with the US, Russia, Britain, France and China plus Germany ending a 13-year stand-off over its nuclear program. The accord will see the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on Iran and has sparked a flurry of interest from countries seeking to re-connect with the oil-rich western Asian nation. Hammond’s visit was the first by a British foreign secretary since 2003. Reopening the embassies was “a first step” toward re-establishing the links between the British people and Iranian people, Hammond said.

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He said that there has been a “step-by-step” improvement in relations between the two countries since President Hassan Rouhani was elected in July 2013. “Iran is and will remain a very important country in a strategically but volatile region,” he said. Following the 2011 embassy attack, Britain said it could not have happened without the tacit consent of the Iranian regime at the time. It erupted after the Iranian parliament voted to expel the British ambassador and reduce trade relations with Britain in retaliation for British-led sanctions against Iran’s banking sector.

Students rampaged for hours through Britain’s diplomatic compounds in Tehran, tearing down the British flag, ripping up pictures of Queen Elizabeth II and trashing offices. Staff were seized by protesters. Diplomatic relations were reduced to their lowest possible level, with Britain expelling Iran´s officials. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohmmad Javad Zarif said Iran and Britain could resolve “differences through interaction and reaching a mutual understanding”. He noted that Tehran and London share views about fighting “extremism, Islamic State” and drug trafficking in the region. He said the reopening of the embassies could be a restart of Iran-Britain relations, adding, “Today (Sunday), we entered the phase of mutual relationship based on mutual respect”.

(IANS)

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Iran Denounces US as Actual “Head of Global Terrorism”

China, an economic partner of Iran, urged countries outside the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region and to avoid any acts of aggression

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iran, terrorism
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a ceremony marking "National Day of Nuclear Technology," in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019. VOA

Steve Herman contributed to this report from the White House; Carla Babb – from the Pentagon.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounced the United States Tuesday as the actual “head of global terrorism,” one day after the U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.

The move was the first time the U.S. designated part of another government as a terrorist organization.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” President Donald Trump declared in a statement. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

The U.S. action, which takes effect next week and includes the IRGC’s elite secretive Quds Force, means it will be a federal crime to provide any type of support to the IRGC.

iran, terrorism
In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a meeting with a group of Revolutionary Guards and their families, in Tehran, Iran, April 9, 2019. VOA

Rouhani said the U.S. designation would only bolster the reputation of the Revolutionary Guards and promote harmony among Iranians.

“This mistake will unite Iranians and the Guards will grow more popular in Iran and in the region,” Rouhani said. “America has used terrorists as a tool in the region while the Guards have fought against them from Iraq to Syria.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a group of guards Tuesday, describing the U.S. action as a “vicious move” that “will bear no fruit.” After Iran’s legislature convened for an open session in Tehran Tuesday, lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted, “Death to America.”

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani criticized the U.S. decision as the “climax of stupidity and ignorance.” Supreme National Security Council spokesman Keivan Khosravi warned without elaborating that “any unusual move by American forces in the region will be perceived as the behavior by a terrorist group.”

China, an economic partner of Iran, urged countries outside the Middle East to promote peace and stability in the region and to avoid any acts of aggression.

iran, terrorism
After Iran’s legislature convened for an open session in Tehran Tuesday, lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted, “Death to America.” VOA

“We oppose power politics and bullying by any countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

Minutes after the announcement from the White House on the designation Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated the IRGC “organizes and executes terror campaigns around the world.”

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U.S. officials, in comments to reporters, are also referring to the IRGC as a “death cult” that, they say, is the true face of Iranian foreign policy.

Pompeo declined to say, when asked by a reporter, whether the terrorist designation means that the U.S. military will target IRGC leaders the same way it does those of the Islamic State group. Iran responded Monday to the U.S. action by putting U.S. military forces on its list of terror groups. (VOA)