Boris Johnson ends Iran visit without agreement on jailed Briton

 

Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, has ended his two-day visit to Iran without any announcement on the release of the British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but has agreed with President Rouhani that Britain and Iran wanted to make progress “on the removal of all obstacles in the Anglo-Iranian relationship”.

The brief statement came after Johnson met Rouhani for an hour to discuss regional and bilateral issues including US and UK banking restrictions and UK concerns “about the consular cases of dual nationals”.

The Foreign Office spokesman said both men “spoke forthrightly about the obstacles in the relationship and agreed on the need to make progress in all areas”.

“It has been a worthwhile visit and we leave with a sense that both sides want to keep up the momentum to resolve the difficult issues in the bilateral relationship and preserve the nuclear deal,” he added.

During his visit, Johnson met most of the senior figures in Iranian , including the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, as well as Dr Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Association.

Iranian news media accounts of the meetings did not focus on the Zagahari-Ratcliffe issue, but instead on what the UK could do to ease British banking restrictions that are holding back Iranian-UK trade in the wake of the lifting of sanctions made possible by the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015.

The nuclear deal is under threat in America, but the UK, in common with other EU countries, has been a staunch defender of the deal, insisting Iran is in compliance with its terms.

Zaghhari-Ratcliffe has been in jail for nearly two years charged with with seeking to undermine the Iranian state, and it is possible she is due to appear in court again on Sunday on fresh charges that could extend her sentence by as much as 10 years.

 

 

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