UK sent senior diplomat to Ahmadinejad's inauguration

Iran's opposition leaders, who maintain that the election was rigged, boycotted the event.

By JONNY PAUL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 6, 2009 03:13
2 minute read.
UK sent senior diplomat to Ahmadinejad's inauguration

Ahmadinejad inauguration 248.88 ap. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Britain sent its second most senior diplomat in Teheran to Monday's ceremony in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was officially endorsed by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Foreign Office confirmed on Tuesday that it sent Patrick Davies, the British Embassy's deputy head of mission, to the ceremony. Iran's opposition leaders, who maintain that the election was rigged, boycotted the event. "We sent our deputy head of mission to yesterday's ceremony. No final decision has been taken on the level at which we will be represented at the parliamentary event on Wednesday," a foreign office spokesperson said on Tuesday. In June, Iran ordered the expulsion of two British diplomats for "activities inconsistent with their diplomatic status" - diplomatic language for spying. The Iranian regime also arrested British Embassy staff, accusing them of instigating demonstrations and "fomenting unrest" after the presidential elections. Iranian authorities also expelled the BBC's Teheran correspondent. According to the Foreign Office, "The European Union discussed attendance at the inauguration, and there was informal co-ordination between embassies in Teheran, but ultimately it was a matter for member states. "We have been united in expressing our concern about the violence seen in the post-election period. These concerns still stand. It is important that Iran understands that it is not 'business as usual', but right that the EU is represented." London chose not to send its ambassador in Teheran, Simon Gass, to show it was not "business as usual" and maintained the importance of the diplomatic route to raise policy concerns, a spokesman said. "We have serious issues that we need to address with the [Iranian] government, including the nuclear program and we are also very concerned about the human rights situation. We will press on with hard-headed diplomacy to try and make progress on these difficult, but crucial issues. "So it is not "business as usual" with Iran, that is why the ambassador is not there, but these important issues must be addressed and to do this communication channels have to be open," the Foreign Office spokesperson said. At the ceremony, Khamenei, who last month described Britain as the "most evil" of its enemies, praised Ahmadinejad as "courageous" and hard-working as he criticized the regime's "enemies." The Iranian president attacked Western powers as "selfish and meddlesome." "Gone is the era of bullying. You can no longer impose your will on the world nations. I recommend you turn back to the path of justice and shy away from meddling in others' affairs...The noble Iranian nation will not brook such insincerity and selfishness," Ahmadinejad said.

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