UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson’s upcoming visit to Iran will be the third trip of its kind to the country by a British Foreign Secretary since 2003.
Later this week, UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Tehran in a bid to secure the release of a female Iranian-British national.
38-year-old charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in Iran in April 2016, is charged with plotting a “soft” coup against the Iranian authorities.
Media reports said that Johnson is unlikely to get the go-ahead from Iranian authorities to visit Zaghari-Ratcliffe in prison since Tehran does not recognize her dual British-Iranian citizenship and keeps UK government officials from getting access to her.
Also on the agenda of Johnson’s visit will be developing Iranian-British relations and Tehran’s implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.
Johnson’s visit to Iran, which will be just the third such trip by a UK Foreign Secretary since 2003, comes amid the worldwide public uproar caused by US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Johnson has played down expectations of an immediate breakthrough in the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Progress may depend on his conversations in two days of talks with senior Iranian figures including the foreign minister, Javad Zarif.
The UK will be presenting ideas about how British banks, with the help of the Bank of England, can operate across Iran with less fear of being subject to mainly US-imposed sanctions and fines. Iran believes the nuclear deal has not led to the flourishing of trade or the interconnection with the western banking system it had been promised.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, said to be close to a mental breakdown, had been due to make a fresh appearance in court on Sunday facing new charges relating to espionage that could result in her five-year sentence extended by as much as 10 years. It is not clear if the hearing will still go ahead while the foreign secretary is still in Tehranand there have been suggestions it may be delayed.
Hopes for her early release grew last week when it was revealed that an Iranian government health commissioner was to make checks on her health. It has been claimed she has been suffering panic attacks, insomnia, bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts.
She was arrested at Tehran airport two years ago with her daughter who has stayed in the Iranian capital with her grandmother.
Johnson has insisted the second set of charges laid against her are not related to his errorlast month in telling the foreign affairs select committee that she had been in Iran to train journalists.