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Rouhani hopes BoJo’s ‘familiarity’ with Iran will help alleviate tensions

Rouhani hopes BoJo’s ‘familiarity’ with Iran will help alleviate tensions
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has congratulated Boris Johnson on becoming the new British prime minister and expressed hope for improving relations amid an ongoing spike in tensions between London and Tehran.

The president hailed Johnson’s “familiarity with relations between Iran and the United Kingdom,” apparently referring to his tenure as foreign secretary. Rouhani also said in a statement released by the presidential office that he hopes this knowledge would help the new prime minister to “greatly contribute to removing the existing obstacles on the path of development of relations between the two countries” and “further deepen bilateral and multilateral relations.”

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In his capacity as foreign secretary, Johnson visited Iran only once – in 2017. That two-day visit ended without any significant breakthroughs, although he said after his meeting with Rouhani that London and Tehran agreed on their desire to remove “all obstacles in the Anglo-Iranian relationship” – a phrase which the Iranian president apparently referred to in his own address.

However, relations between the two nations have gone in the opposite direction recently. London and Tehran have been engaged in an ongoing bitter diplomatic row ever since British marines seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil in the Strait of Gibraltar in early July. The British authorities said the tanker was laden with oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

Tehran called the explanation “laughable,” while denying the vessel was heading to Syria. It also denounced the seizure as “piracy” and accused the UK of acting on behalf of Washington, which has been attempting to exert pressure on Tehran – particularly by targeting its oil exports.

Tensions escalated further when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a British-flagged tanker on July 19, accusing it of violating maritime law. Iran said it will not rule out dialogue with the UK as long as its security interests are respected.

Also on rt.com Iranian FM Zarif welcomes Johnson as British PM, but warns Iran will defend its waters

Johnson has already stirred controversy, accusing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being “paid by the Press TV of Iran” and “siding with the mullahs of Tehran rather than our friends in the US” – while the new prime minister’s own father has appeared on the very same Iranian state TV channel.

Stanley Johnson told the channel that Iran “means so much” to his son, while awkwardly invoking Darius and Xerxes – the rulers of the ancient Persian Empire, which included modern Iran. He went on to say that Boris would love to “build bridges” with Tehran and offered an “easy-peasy” solution to the tanker crisis by saying each side should just release the vessel it seized.

Downing Street has not issued any comments on this interview so far.

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