Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 February 2020

British ambassador to Iran returns to post following Tehran arrest

The UK envoy attended a vigil for the victims of the January Ukraine airliner crash and was arrested

Rob Mcaire arrived in the Iranian capital late on Thursday after spending three weeks in BritainEPA
Rob Mcaire arrived in the Iranian capital late on Thursday after spending three weeks in BritainEPA

Britain’s ambassador to Iran has returned to the country following his arrest for attending a vigil for victims of the Ukraine airliner crash in January.

Rob Macaire arrived in the Iranian capital late on Thursday after spending three weeks in Britain.

He returned to the UK amid a diplomatic standoff over his arrest in Tehran, though the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said his trip was planned well in advance.

In the aftermath, Britain summoned the Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad to convey objections to over Mr Macaire’s detention.

In Iran, the UK ambassador was called an "undesirable element" by the judiciary which said the vigil he had attended was an illegal protest.

A hard-line cleric in Iran said he should be expelled because of his actions.

Mr Macaire indicated he had returned to the Iranian capital in a post on the social media platform Instagram.

He said in a message in Farsi he had met with the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during his visit to Britain.

Relations between Iran and the West deteriorated at the start of 2020 following the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Suleimani in a US drone strike.

In retaliation, Iran carried out missile attack on a military base in Iraq housing US troops three days later.

During the heightened tensions, with its missile defence systems poised to respond to retaliation, Iran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian commercial airliner carrying some British passengers.

Friction between Tehran and Washington has been building since 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Under the agreement with world powers, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran announced in January that it would abandon restrictions under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but would continue to cooperate with the UN’s nuclear watchdog, allowing the deal to be possibly resurrected.

Mr Macaire said in the video posting that Britain wanted to use the dispute resolution mechanism

Updated: February 7, 2020 04:50 PM

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