Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:11 pm on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 7:11 pm, 7th October 2019

I thank the right hon. Lady for her remarks. She dismisses warm words; I have to say that these are more than words. Words are important and it is correct that we get our language right in these matters. She refers to tact, dedication and diplomacy; we just had a question from my right hon. Friend Mr Hunt, and I have to say that the tact, dedication and diplomacy that he applied to this issue was exemplary. I very much hope that we all approach this matter in the same spirit.

The right hon. Lady is right to say that we appeal to Iran’s decency in this matter. That is where this issue rests and it is absolutely right that we should appeal to Iran in that way. I still hope that Nazanin will be released, because Iran is, as I said in my earlier remarks, fundamentally a decent, civilised nation. I want the Iranians to find that within themselves in order to do the right thing in this particular case.

In respect of the International Military Services debt, the right hon. Lady will know that the matter is before the courts. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran has itself specifically decoupled the repayment of debt from Iran’s detention of dual nationals. It is not the UK Government who have done that; it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran itself. The right hon. Lady seeks to join the two; Tehran says no, and that the two are separate. Given that Iran has said no, even if we were minded to do so it would be very difficult for us to proceed on the basis of, as she puts it, quid pro quo.