Johnson to satisfy Iranian president on second day of talks

Lester Mason
December 12, 2017

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker serving a five-year prison sentence for allegedly plotting against Iran's government, was on top of Johnson's agenda.

As well as the dual national cases, Mr Johnson will discuss British concerns over Iranian involvement in conflicts in the region, especially in Syria and Yemen.

A day earlier, Johnson said he expected to have "frank" discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

After almost an hour of talks with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, yesterday, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said they "both spoke forthrightly" and "agreed on the need to make progress in all areas".

Richard Ratcliffe also revealed Nazanin could "see some light" at the end of the tunnel as her spell in one of Iran's most brutal prisons reaches nearly two years.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said Johnson and Rouhani spoke "forthrightly" on a number of issues.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has said he hopes the talks could lead to his wife being freed before Christmas.

He continued that since then, Johnson had promised that he "would do his best" for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and "to date he has been as good as his word".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has said she was not working in Iran.

But the campaign on Sunday said Nazanin has noted that in the last days building up to the Foreign Secretary's visit that the Iran state TV propaganda against her - which Johnson's comments helped fuel - has "lightened". He has since apologised.

"It's all up in the air", said Mr Ratcliffe.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested on a visit to see her parents with her baby daughter Gabriella and accused of spying - which she denies. Ratcliffe said a hearing in his wife's trial today was postponed because of Johnson's trip, a development he viewed with optimism.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has said she can see "light at the end of the tunnel" after she avoided a court appearance on Sunday following a visit to Iran by foreign secretary Boris Johnson at the weekend.

"Who knows what lies ahead?"

The two-day visit took place against a complex backdrop of historical, regional and bilateral tensions.

Johnson also met similar criticisms from Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's supreme national security council.

Last month, Macron suggested amending the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite eight International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports which have confirmed Iran's full compliance with the agreement.

That deal is under threat after US President Donald Trump chose to decertify Iran's compliance with its terms. Johnson told Zarif he believed the deal should be fully implemented.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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