Iran sanctions could be lifted in spring 2016: Britain (17:43)

Tehran, Aug 25 (IANS) Sanctions against Iran could begin to be eased as early as next spring, Britain’s foreign secretary has said in the latest sign of thawing ties between Tehran and the West.

During a two-day visit to Iran, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Monday that he expected preparatory business negotiations to take place well ahead of the formal lifting of sanctions. However, he added that Britain and Iran still have a fundamental disagreement on Syria, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Hammond met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday. He arrived in the Iranian capital a day earlier to attend the reopening of the British embassy there after nearly four years. Iran also formally reopened its embassy in London.

The diplomatic moves follow a landmark nuclear agreement last month between Iran, the US and five other world powers. Hammond also said that Iran and the US could endorse the deal by October.

“We could be talking as early as next spring to start to see sanctions lifting,” Hammond told news media.

Britain and Iran, which have a long history of turbulent bilateral relations, down-scaled diplomatic ties in late 2011 after Iranian students stormed the British embassy compound in Tehran, bringing down the British flag and looting documents.

Britain retaliated by expelling Iran’s diplomats and closed its diplomatic seat in Iran. Ties were not formally severed but contacts were reduced to their lowest possible level.

The election in 2013 of Rouhani, a moderate, opened the way for progress on international talks about Iran’s disputed nuclear programme and an improvement in the country’s relations with the West.

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