London, Tehran open diplomatic doors

Oct. 9, 2013 at 9:46 AM

LONDON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The British government will test Iran's sincerity by opening the lines of communication with Tehran, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reached out to members of the international community since taking office in August. Last month, he spoke by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama as Rouhani was leaving the U.S. General Assembly session in New York for Iran, the first time for such high level talks since Iran's revolution in 1979.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif picked up the diplomatic mantle with a phone conversation with his British counterpart, William Hague. The British minister told lawmakers he was upbeat about Iran's positive engagement with its adversaries.

"There is no doubt that the tone of the meetings with them is different," he said Tuesday. "We must test the Iranian government's sincerity to the full, and it is important that our channels of communication are open for that."

Hague said both sides agreed to appoint non-resident charge d'affaires and work toward establishing formal diplomatic ties.

Zarif's spokeswoman, Marziyeh Afkham, said from Tehran the Iranian government was eager to establish a better working relationship with London.

"It has been agreed that talks shall continue between representatives of the two foreign ministries," she was quoted by Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying.

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