Jan. 8 - A UK delegation led by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visits Tehran at the invitation of the Iranian government to boost ties between the two countries. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A British parliamentary delegation led by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw arrives in Tehran earlier this week -- at the invitation of the Iranian government to boost diplomatic ties between the two countries. Long-strained ties between the two countries have warmed since the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran's president in June. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF UK DELEGATION AND FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW, SAYING: "It is worth underlining that the rhetoric which Dr. (Hassan) Rouhani, your president, has used has changed and is changing for the better the perception of Iran, certainly in Western Europe and in the United States." Last November, six world powers, including Britain, agreed to a framework that would curb Iran's nuclear program in return for easing economic sanctions. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF UK DELEGATION AND FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW, SAYING: "I and my colleagues on the delegation support the rights and obligations laid down in the non-proliferation treaty for Iran, as for any other country, for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." On the street, one businessman welcomed the visit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRANIAN BUSINESSMAN, SHAPOUR EJLAL, SAYING: "Mr. Jack Straw's trip to Iran could signal progress and move toward positive movement in better image for Iran as a whole around the world that will open up doors, economic doors and relation doors to a lot of people around. It will help the Iranian people, and also it's very beneficial to other countries that they are willing to deal with Iran." London downgraded ties with Iran after hard-liners stormed its embassy in 2011. Despite the warmer ties, the two countries' respective embassies remain closed.