UK looks to 'strengthen ties' with Iran

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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara June 10, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Umit Bektas

The Foreign Secretary will set out today how Britain is strengthening ties with Iran.

William Hague told MPs yesterday that he was about to make an announcement on diplomatic ties between London and Tehran.

It comes at an extremely sensitive time in the region as extremists take over key towns in the north of Iraq.

Relations between Iran and the West has been thawing since the success last year of Hassan Rouhani in the Presidential elections - winning comfortably against more hard line opponents.

Although he does not hold supreme power in the country, he has indicated - through his words and his actions -that he wants to bring Iran out of the deep freeze.

Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has close ties with President Rouhani - who studied at university in Glasgow.

In the Commons yesterday, Mr Straw welcomed the potential move to unblock diplomatic channels between the two countries.

The Foreign Office won't comment in advance of today's announcement but it's thought the UK has made progress towards re-opening a consulate in Tehran.

The British embassy in the Iranian capital closed in 2011 after it was stormed by protesters.

Earlier this year, both countries appointed non-resident Charges d'Affaires - as a first step to restoring full diplomatic relations.

A written announcement is expected from the Foreign Office at 9:30 this morning.