Cameron warns diplomatic break with Iran would weaken diplomacy with Tehran

British Foreign Secretary reveals he has been asked by the Iranians to help interpret US indirect messages to the regime

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that Britain should not cut off ties with Iran's Revolutionary Guards as this would end diplomatic relations and communications with Tehran. PA
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Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said that Britain must not label Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists as this would end diplomatic relations and would result in him sending messages to Tehran “via France”.

Lord Cameron also stated that indirect messages sent to Iran from countries which did not have diplomatic relations, including America, led to him frequently being requested by the Iranians to explain what they meant.

Asked by the House of Lords international relations committee if the IRGC should be proscribed as a terrorist group, Lord Cameron said this would immediately end diplomatic relations.

He argued that in times of crisis, especially with the Israel-Gaza war, it was vital that he could pick up the phone and speak to Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

“When it comes to trying to stop the escalation of the conflict, when it comes to direct messages to the Iranians, to put it bluntly, I want to have that conversation myself,” he said. “I don't want to ring up my French counterpart and say ‘can you message the Iranians with this message’.”

He added that it was not in the UK’s interests to break diplomatically with Iran as it “wouldn’t strengthen our approach and in many ways it would weaken it”.

Even with countries that were disliked and seen as a threat by Britain, it was necessary to “deliver the message, to hear the answer and go back again with another message”.

He then referred to states with no diplomatic relations, a relatively short list that includes the US, Canada and Bahrain.

“Sometimes I find with countries that don't have diplomatic relations with Iran, they send a message to the Iranians and Iranians sometimes ring me up and say ‘so what do you think they meant?’ I don't want to be in that position. I want to have that very direct conversation.”

Bob Seely, a Conservative MP and member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told The National that Lord Cameron was “making a fair point”.

“This is the problem with the IRGC, in that they are absolutely implicit in international terrorism,” he said. “But they are also part of the state. If we talk to Iran, which we probably need to do, we have to talk to them directly or at least indirectly.”

During a debate in the Commons, Andrew Mitchell, the deputy foreign secretary, suggested that Britain could end the nuclear agreement struck with Iran given its hostile actions in response to a question from a fellow MP.

“Alongside international partners, we are prepared to use all options available to tackle the difficulties which he described including triggering the UN snapback and ending the JCPOA if necessary,” he warned.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also telephone Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday urging him to increase aid to Gaza.

“The Prime Minister reiterated the urgency and importance of continuing to get much more aid in and emphasised there needed to be greater access to facilitate these deliveries, including via the vital land routes,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

“The UK continued to push for an immediate humanitarian pause to allow more aid in and hostages out.”

With a potential Israeli assault in Rafah looming, Mr Sunak also said Britain's focus was on de-escalation “which is essential and in everyone’s interest”.

Updated: April 30, 2024, 5:20 PM