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New British ambassador presents credentials to Iranian FM

TEHRAN, May 26 (Wire Services) - Britain's new ambassador to Iran presented his credentials Wednesday to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, after 10 years of strained relations.

The two countries agreed in September to normalise relations after the Iranian government said it would not seek to apply the 1989 religious decree, or fatwa, in which the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for British writer Salman Rushdie to be killed.

Iran announced in May that its charge d'affaires in London, Gholam-Reza Ansari, and the British charge in Tehran, Nick Browne, would each be promoted to the rank of ambassador in the respective capitals.

During his meeting with Browne, Kharazi referred to "the Iranian people's bitter memories of the past," implicitly recalling Britain's one-time dominance over the country.

Kharazi, cited by the official IRNA news agency, expressed hope that the "new relationship would be based on mutual respect and aim at bilateral productivity."

He added that the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries would lead to a "strengthening and expansion of cooperation in all fields."

Browne expressed his country's willingness to "expand bilateral cooperation in numerous sectors, including investment, trade, and Iran's struggle against drug trafficking," IRNA reported.

The British diplomat also said that Iran, as current chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), along with other Islamic countries, can play an important role in helping the reconstruction of Kosovo.

Browne, 51, a career diplomat and married with four children, has twice before served in Tehran, from 1971-75 and in 1989, and has been charge d'affaires in Iran since 1997. He joined the Foreign Office in 1969.


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