The British opposition Labour party has criticized the government for failing to take the opportunity of being invited to the incoming Iranian president’s inauguration after London said it will send in no representatives.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi said earlier this week that the government has sent invitations to European countries, including Britain, to attend the swearing-in ceremony of president-elect Hassan Rohani planned for August 4. In response the British Foreign Office said they are not being represented at the ceremony. “The EU position is that local embassies may send representatives. As the UK does not have an embassy in Tehran we will not attend,” a spokesman said. However, British Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander said London’s response to the invitation from Iran “represents both a misjudgment and a missed opportunity". “Diplomacy involves meeting with people with whom you disagree. The UK should be working with other EU countries to engage with the new Iranian President," he said. This comes as Jack Straw, the former British Foreign Secretary at Tony Blair’s Labour government, had earlier welcomed the election of Rohani as the new Iranian president saying he has “been urging the [British] government … to reengage with Iranians, because there is a chance now that we can”. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said last Wednesday that London will “respond in good faith to positive action by Iran,” adding they are “ready to improve our relations on a step-by-step basis”. On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi said in response to Hague’s remarks that Iran seeks all-out expansion of ties “with all EU members including Britain” but underlined “any measure to remove [the diplomatic] problem should be initiated by London”.