Iran: We do not want to downgrade relations with Britain

Amid soaring tensions between Teheran and London after Iranian authorities detained local British Embassy employees accused of stirring up post-election unrest, Iran on Monday dismissed the idea of downgrading diplomatic relations with Britain. Iranian officials had said they were considering downgrading ties with the UK, which expelled two Iranian diplomats last week in a retaliatory move after Iran ousted two British envoys. But in a press conference broadcast on state television Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said that a "reduction of diplomatic ties is not on our agenda for any country, including Britain." Only four of the nine UK embassy employees that were arrested are still in custody and were under interrogation, he said. Qashqavi said Iranian officials have been in written and verbal contact with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has assured Teheran that Britain would not interfere in Iranian affairs.