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Iran: Diplomatic Service

Volume 481: debated on Monday 20 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on commercial relations with Iran of changes in staffing levels in the commercial section of the British Embassy in Tehran. (222689)

UK policy is to support UN and EU sanctions by making clear to those in the Iranian regime that it cannot be business as usual as long as they fail to comply with UN Security Council resolutions and co-operate fully with the International Atomic Energy Authority. We are prepared to risk any impact the reduction in trade promotion activities may have on British business with Iran in order to maintain pressure on the Iranian regime over its nuclear programme. It is too early to judge the effect that these changes may have on our wider commercial relationship with Iran. We look forward to the day when we can return to business as usual, to the benefit of the UK and Iran. But a decision to reach that state rests with the Iranian regime. It is of note that trade between the UK and Iran fell by 8 per cent. over the first four months of this year.