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British Foreign Office Spokesman: We will improve ties with Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A spokesman for the British Foreign Office has said that his country”s government is working with Tehran to settle outstanding issues, especially the accusation of &#34Iranian involvement&#34 in southern Iraq, in addition to the Iranian nuclear issue. He considered that the charges directed at Britain regarding the assistance in carrying out the bombings in Ahvaz &#34do not even deserve a response.&#34 The spokesman welcomed the Arab League initiative in Iraq and affirmed Britain”s full support for any contribution by neighboring states to back the political process, especially considering that this is in the direct interest of the region.

The spokesman, who was addressed Arab and Iranian journalists at the Foreign Office yesterday, declined to reveal the detailed evidence held by his country regarding the allegation of Iranian interference in southern Iraq. &#34The main thing,&#34 the diplomat said, &#34is that the British are working with the Iranians and officials from both sides are dealing with one another.&#34 He denied that the talks about the sources of concern are taking place on a ministerial level. He confirmed, however, that the current channel of communication is through the ambassadors of the two countries. He said that Richard Dalton, the British ambassador in Tehran, is discussing the matters concerned with his counterparts in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and that his Iranian counterpart in London is discussing the matter with representatives of the British Government.

The spokesman believes that the allegations of British involvement in the Ahvaz incidents are not paid much attention in the British and international media. &#34Nobody is taking them seriously,&#34 he said. He pointed out that the London embassy in Tehran issued an official statement expressing &#34full condemnation of any terrorist attack (wherever it may be), including that which took place in Ahvaz,&#34 and expressed his condolences to the families of the victims. It also &#34rejected any claims about our involvement, considering them as complete nonsense,&#34 he said.

In the meantime, AFP cited Ghulam Reza Shariati, deputy governor of Khuzestan, as saying that an attempted attack was foiled in Ahvaz on 22 October, 2005, just days after the double attack that killed 6 people and injured approximately 100 others in this city that is home to a majority Arab population in the province of Khuzestan. The Iranian official revealed the discovery of &#34a bag containing explosive TNT materials, a hand grenade, and a mine under a bridge in the Kiyan Faris quarter of Ahvaz.&#34 The bridge links the eastern and western parts of the city.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad had accused Britain of being behind the attempts to tamper with the security of Ahvaz. He was quoted at a cabinet meeting as saying: &#34The presence of the British forces in southern Iraq and on the Iranian border is an element of instability for Iranians and Iraqis. We strongly suspect the British forces” perpetration of terrorist acts.&#34