Britain says downgrade in Iran ties would be 'regrettable'

23rd November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain said Wednesday it would be "regrettable" if Iranian lawmakers vote to expel the British ambassador in retaliation for newly imposed Western sanctions.

The Iranian parliament introduced an emergency bill to be voted on Sunday that would see diplomatic relations downgraded to the more junior level of charge d'affaires if passed, the parliamentary website said.

"We are aware of the Majlis's (parliament's) decision that it will vote on whether to downgrade ties with the UK," a spokesman for Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

"It is too early to say what will happen next. But it would be regrettable if they were to take such action.

"We believe that it is important to maintain senior channels of communication and especially at times like these. It is only through dialogue that we can solve the problems we face."

Britain on Monday, in coordination with the United States and Canada, announced new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme, after a report by the UN atomic energy watchdog this month suggesting Tehran was researching nuclear weapons.

Britain, which hosts one of the world's biggest financial market in the City of London, said it was "ceasing all contact" between its financial system and that of Iran.

Britain and Canada have embassies in Tehran. The United States does not, having closed it after Islamic students took its diplomats hostage in 1979 following Iran's revolution.

© 2011 AFP

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