The embassy will reopen four years after it was ransacked by angry protesters, in a move that marks a thaw in ties between London and Tehran. Mana Rabiee reports.
It was November, 2011. Protesters ransacked the British embassy in Tehran over nuclear-related sanctions imposed by London. They looted the building… smashing treasures, tearing up portraits of Britain's kings and queens. The Iranian government and its supporters had long viewed Britain as having a malicious influence in Iran's regional affairs - but THIS was the most violent protest against the UK yet. Britain responded by shutting Iran's embassy in London and expelling its diplomats. Fast forward nearly four years - AND one historic nuclear deal later - to this weekend… when British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond travels to Iran to reopen its embassy there, a British diplomatic source tells Reuters. In Tehran, Iranians seem to greet the news with mixed feelings. 'We want to be friends and have good relations with everyone', this man says. But another man says England doesn't want Iran's "well-being" and that the embassy should remain closed. Hammond will reportedly take a small group of business leaders with him to Iran, including representatives from Royal Dutch Shell. Iran's natural gas reserves, after all, are larger than even Russia's. He'll have meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani… with his Iranian counterpart, Mohamad Javad Zarif and with a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader. For more than a decade, Britain has cast the Islamic Republic as a rogue power that wants to sow turmoil through the Middle East. But come Sunday, when its embassy is set to reopen, the thaw in relations between London and Tehran will be well under way.