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Backbench Business — Iran (UK Foreign Policy)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:36 pm on 6th November 2014.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 2:36 pm, 6th November 2014

My hon. Friend is right to raise these matters. The mob that came through was essentially let through by the security guards who were supposed to protect the embassy. We must pursue both the security and the repayment issues before reopening the embassy.

The second issue is about visa services. We and the Iranian Government agree on the importance of visa services resuming in capitals as soon as possible after embassies reopen. Visas are an important issue for the large number of Iranian citizens who wish to visit the UK but who currently must travel to Abu Dhabi or Istanbul to obtain them. Restoring a visa service in Tehran is important both as a key component of normal embassy business and for the broader UK-Iran bilateral relationship. A future UK visa service in Tehran must be able to operate effectively and within the framework of Iranian law, while also meeting broader UK immigration objectives. In particular, we need to address the problem of individuals with no legal right to remain in the UK.

Both these issues are essential to the British embassy’s ability to function effectively in Tehran, and we hope we can reach agreement with the Iranian authorities soon, so that our plans for the embassy can progress.