Iran MPs push for cut in ties with Britain

19th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

An influential group of Iranian MPs on Sunday backed a motion to cut all ties with Britain after its ambassador criticised the Islamic republic on human rights, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Parliament's foreign policy and national security commission voted in favour of a draft bill to sever ties with Britain, commission member Mohammad Karami-Rad told IRNA.

"The offensive and cheap stance of their ambassador was discussed at the commission and everyone was determined about cutting ties," he said, without specifying when the 290-member parliament would put the bill on its agenda.

British ambassador Simon Gass has angered conservatives in Iran by saying that lawyers, journalists and NGO workers were "nowhere under greater threat than in Iran" and calling for prominent lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh's release.

"Since last year human rights defenders (in Iran) have been harassed and imprisoned," he said in a blog posted on the British embassy website to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Alistair Burt, the British Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, has rejected calls in the Iranian press for Gass to be recalled and said the envoy had the "full support" of the British government.

Tehran's ties with London have deteriorated since Iran accused Britain of backing the opposition and fomenting unrest after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Iranian leaders have also pointed fingers at the British secret service MI6 as well as US and Israeli intelligence for the assassination of a top nuclear scientist last month.

© 2010 AFP

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