Iran and Britain expel diplomats after Iranian presidential election

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iran has expelled two British diplomats. In response, the United Kingdom announced yesterday that in a tit-for-tat move it will be expelling two Iranian diplomats.

The expulsions come in the wake of the recent Iranian presidential election, and subsequent hostility directed at the United Kingdom by Iranian leaders and official news services, including statements made by Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei calling the British government the "most evil" of foreign governments.

Commenting upon the expulsion as it was announced, the Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Commons, David Cameron, urged people to remember that this was not a conflict between Iran and the United Kingdom, but was an internal Iranian conflict involving only the people of that country.

Leaders in Iran have long-standing criticisms of what they view as interference by the United Kingdom in internal Iranian affairs. The Iranian government accuses BBC Persian Television, which is funded by the British Foreign Office, of being a propaganda service for the British Government. These criticisms have been repeated by official Iranian news services in the past few days. The Iranian government already expelled one BBC journalist on Sunday, Jon Leyne. The BBC has reported efforts to jam transmissions of BBC Persian Television by the Iranian government.

The United Kingdom is not the only country who called in its Iranian ambassador yesterday. Germany summoned its Iranian ambassador for what spokesmen have described as "clarification" after similar accusations of foreign interference were leveled by Iran at Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel over remarks she made last weekend.

Iran has also charged the United Nations with interfering in the country, with Iranian foreign minister Hassan Ghashghavi accusing Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon of "meddling in Iran's internal affairs" when Ban called upon Iran to respect the "will of its people". Hassan accused Ban of "ignorantly following some domineering powers which have a long record of uncalled-for interference in other countries' internal affairs and colonisation".

News articles in Jamejam today include calls by Hossein Hashemian, minority leader in the Majlis of Iran, to reduce relations between Iran and the United Kingdom, and reports that the Iranian Public Relations Office has issued permits allowing student demonstrations, protesting interference in internal Iranian affairs, in front of the British embassy in Tehran.


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