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Hammond’s Iran rhetoric criticised

THE government’s motives in rebuilding ties with Iran were called into question yesterday, with leftwingers suggesting that the main goal was exploiting lucrative Iranian markets.

Speaking in Tehran a day after he reopened the British embassy following a four-year hiatus, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain must tread carefully in its newly thawed relationship with Iran, but that the two countries can work together to defeat Islamic State (Isis) and fight opium smuggling.

He said Iran was “too large a player” in the region to leave in isolation.

However, the communist Tudeh Party of Iran saw through Mr Hammond’s rhetoric, particularly as he travelled to the country with a delegation of energy company bosses, including Shell vice-president Edward Daniels, and business lobbyists.

A Tudeh Party representative told the Star: “In general, we think that it is important that Iran should have diplomatic ties with all countries of the world.

“However, these should be on the basis of equal, open and transparent relations and without interference in the internal affairs of each other.”

The Tudeh representative said it was ironic that the opening of the embassy in Tehran coincided with the 62nd anniversary of the August 1953 coup in Iran.

The coup, engineered by the CIA and MI6, toppled democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and led to 25 years of pro-US dictatorship under the Shah.

The representative raised fears that Britain seeks oil and gas deals “without any regard for the rights, interests and well-being of the Iranian people.”

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