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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

UK appoints India-origin Ajay Sharma envoy to Iran

Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times   November 12, 2013
First Published: 00:22 IST(12/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:27 IST(12/11/2013)

Britain on Monday appointed Ajay Sharma, an Indian-origin diplomat with considerable experience of Iran and the region, as the non-resident Charge d’Affaires to Iran.

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Official sources said Sharma, who was previously posted as the deputy head of mission in Teheran, is currently head of the Iran department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and will take up the appointment immediately.

The appointment was made amidst renewed efforts by the United States, Britain and others to forge a deal on Iran’s controversial nuclear programme.

Foreign Secretary William Hague had announced on 8 October that the UK and Iran had agreed to appoint non-resident Chargés d’Affaires as an important step towards improving the bilateral relationship.

Sharma’s appointment will enable the UK to have more detailed and regular discussions with Iran on a range of issues, including conditions under which our Embassies could eventually be reopened. Mr Sharma will be based in the UK but will travel regularly to Iran, the sources said.

On his appointment, Sharma said: “I am delighted to take up this appointment at this important time in the UK’s relations with Iran. I am very much looking forward to renewing direct UK contact with the Iranian Government and society. This is very much in the interests of both our countries. I hope to make my first visit to Tehran as non-resident Chargé later this month.”

Updating parliament on recent negotiations on Iran, Hague today said the aim was to produce an interim first step agreement with Iran that could create the confidence and space to negotiate a comprehensive and final settlement.

He said, “The talks broke up without reaching that interim agreement, because some gaps between the parties remain. While I cannot go into the details of the discussions while the talks continue I can say that most of those gaps are now narrow, and many others were bridged altogether during the negotiations".


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