UK minister to visit Iran for 'urgent' talks

Dr Andrew Murrison will travel to Tehran on Sunday for senior level discussions with the administration over its 'conduct'

UAE Navy boats are seen next to the Saudi tanker Al Marzoqah off the Port of Fujairah, UAE. Reuters
UAE Navy boats are seen next to the Saudi tanker Al Marzoqah off the Port of Fujairah, UAE. Reuters

Britain's Middle East minister has announced an immediate visit to Iran to hold urgent talks over rising tensions in the region.

Dr Andrew Murrison will travel to Tehran for senior level talks with the country's government on Sunday.

The London Foreign Office said the minister would "call for urgent de-escalation in the region and raise UK and international concerns about Iran’s regional conduct and its threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal to which the UK remains fully committed".

It comes as world leaders scrambled to defuse tensions on Friday after US President Donald Trump revealed he cancelled an air strike on Iranian targets just 10 minutes before the attack was due to take place, amid fears that 150 people could be killed.

He claimed the US military were “cocked and loaded” to strike three different Iranian sites in retaliation of the destruction of a US surveillance drone.

On Saturday, Iran warned the US that any aggression would have serious consequences for its interests across the Middle East.

"Firing one bullet towards Iran will set fire to the interests of America and its allies," armed forces general staff spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the Tasnim news agency.

London's Foreign Office said on Saturday it continues to have an "ongoing diplomatic dialogue" with Tehran and is taking immediate action to meet with Iranian leaders.

"At this time of increased regional tensions and at a crucial period for the future of the nuclear deal, this visit is an opportunity for further open, frank and constructive engagement with the government of Iran," the statement added.

On Friday, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres called for those involved to show “nerves of steel” to ensure the situation does not escalate.

Last week the US blamed Iran for an attack on two oil tankers travelling through the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has denied.

Updated: June 22, 2019 02:42 PM

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