EU slams 'unacceptable' British embassy storming in Iran

29th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called on Iran Tuesday to fulfill international obligations to protect embassies after the "unacceptable" storming of the British mission in Tehran.

"It is with extreme concern that I have learnt that the premises of the embassy of the United Kingdom in Tehran have been overrun by demonstrators. I strongly condemn this totally unacceptable incursion," Ashton said.

"I call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran immediately to fulfill its international obligations, including the Vienna Convention, to protect diplomats and embassies," she said in a statement.

"I am following developments closely and remain in contact with the UK authorities and EU member states."

Protesters stormed Britain's embassy and another diplomatic compound in Tehran, trashing offices, stealing documents and defying police efforts to remove them.

Iran's foreign ministry expressed regret over the incident while police said several protesters who entered the embassy were arrested and would be handed over to the courts.

Six British diplomats sequestered for more than two hours inside a building in Britain's diplomatic compound in the north of the capital were finally able to get through a crowd of hundreds of protesters after intervention from diplomatic police, the Fars news agency reported.

In a statement, the foreign ministry expressed "regret for certain unacceptable behaviour by a small number of protesters in spite of efforts by the police" at the British embassy.

The demonstrators were showing their anger at Britain's announcement last week that it was cutting off all relations with Iran's financial sector as part of a raft of sanctions coordinated with the United States and Canada.

Iran responded by passing a law Monday to expel Britain's ambassador within the next two weeks. Britain has warned it will act "robustly" if Iran's foreign ministry complies.

EU foreign ministers are expected to decide a new wave of sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities on Thursday over Iran's refusal to freeze its disputed nuclear programme.

© 2011 AFP

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