Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday met with his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, on the sidelines of a conference in Afghanistan on Thursday. An FCO statement said that Hague told Salehi that “the onus now was on Iran to respond in concrete terms. If Iran took concrete steps, the international community would reciprocate.” The P5+1 (the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) is scheduled to meet with Iran at the beginning of next week in Moscow in negotiations over Tehran’s contentious nuclear programme.
The statement also said that the brief meeting was convened at Salehi’s request, and that Hague pressed Iran to use its influence in support of the full implementation of a Syrian peace plan proposed by UN envoy Kofi Annan. Relations between London and Tehran were frozen after an assault on the British embassy in Tehran last year.
Hague also met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Kabul and stressed to him the need for the implementation of the Annan peace plan in Syria. “The foreign secretary asked Russia to use its full influence on the Syrian regime to ensure a peaceful resolution of the situation through a political process,” Hague’s ministry said in a statement.
Russia, a long-term ally of Syria, has refused to stop supplying arms to Assad’s regime, which is engaged in a bloody conflict against an uprising that erupted in March 2011. UN Monitors say more than 14,000 people have been killed since then. Moscow has come under strong criticism from Western and Arab countries for vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions that would have sanctioned Assad for his use of force.