Philip Dunne questions Foreign Office Minister on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

7th January 2019

Following the Foreign Office statement on the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Philip Dunne asks if recent diplomatic engagement with Iran in relation to the Yemen peace talks have offered any pointers that could bring some satisfaction in this case.

In the light of the role played by British diplomats, and my right hon. Friend and his colleagues in the Foreign Office, in engaging with the Iranians successfully before Christmas to persuade them to persuade the Houthi to go to the Stockholm peace talks on Yemen, while not conflating that issue with this, may I ask whether there are any pointers from that recent diplomatic engagement with Iran that could help to bring some satisfaction in this case?

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the recent announcement and thank him for his question. Iran is a complex country. The way in which there was indeed help and assistance at a vital stage to ensure that the talks in Stockholm went ahead was an example of what Iran can do to move its position as far as many outside Iran are concerned. As one would expect, in all our dealings with Iran, while never being blind to issues that we consider to be very difficult, in terms of its conduct and what it might be doing, the UK constantly looks for opportunities to change the nature of relationships in a confrontational region. As the shadow Foreign Secretary said, in the region as a whole there is too much confrontation, too many opportunities for conflict and too many situations in which people feel threatened and act in a way that increases that threat rather than decreases it. One would expect the UK to play its part in trying to decrease that threat, and Iran is part of the process whereby those threats might be decreased. We will continue to work on that basis.


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