US condemns storming of British embassy in Iran

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The United States on Tuesday condemned the storming of the British embassy in Iran in the "strongest terms" and called on Tehran to condemn the incident and prosecute those responsible.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding "we stand ready to support our allies at this difficult time."

Protesters earlier stormed the embassy and another diplomatic compound in Tehran, dramatically escalating Iran's showdown with the West and sparking international alarm.

"Iran has a responsibility to protect the diplomatic missions present in its country and the personnel stationed at them," Carney said.

"We urge Iran to fully respect its international obligations, to condemn the incident, to prosecute the offenders, and to ensure that no further such incidents take place either at the British Embassy or any other mission in Iran."

The United States has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since Islamic revolutionary militants stormed Washington's embassy in 1979 and held 52 hostages for 444 days.

Protesters remained in both British properties in Tehran, trashing offices, stealing documents and defying police efforts to remove them, according to an AFP journalist and Iranian media at the scene.

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.

Iran's foreign ministry expressed regret over the "unacceptable" storming of the embassy, blaming a small number of protesters.

"The relevant authorities have been asked to take the necessary measures and look into this issue immediately," the ministry said.

© 2011 AFP

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