Britain urges financial isolation of Iran at EU talks

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Britain will call for sanctions to financially isolate Iran at a European Union foreign ministers meeting Thursday following the storming of its Tehran embassy, Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

"I hope we will agree today additional measures that will be an intensification of the economic pressure on Iran, peaceful legitimate economic pressure particularly to increase the isolation of the Iranian financial sector," Hague said on arriving for the talks.

"My particular focus is on the financial sector," he added.

The ministers will be discussing sanctions on dozens of Iranian companies and individuals but are unlikely to target the country's oil sector while also remaining divided on calls to hit the central bank.

They are expected to agree an assets freeze and travel ban on an extra 143 Iranian companies and 37 people while calling for a resumption of global talks on Iran's contested nuclear programme.

Speaking to the BBC, Hague added that the EU had shown "tremendous solidarity" with France, Germany and the Netherlands all recalling their ambassadors from Iran after Tuesday's attack.

Britain on Wednesday ordered the closure of the Iranian embassy in London and also evacuated all UK diplomatic staff from Tehran in response to the attack.

Tuesday's protests in Tehran were originally called to vent anger over Britain's announcement last week it was halting all transactions with Iran's financial system, including its central bank.

Iranian officials this week retaliated by passing a law to expel the British ambassador within days.

© 2011 AFP

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