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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
UK names Iran ambassador
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visiting Tehran
Mr Straw is personally involved in improving relations
Britain has named career diplomat Sir Richard Dalton as its new ambassador to Iran, after a previous nomination earlier this year caused a diplomatic row.

The UK Foreign Office said Mr Dalton, who has been serving as ambassador in Libya since 1999, will take up his post in January 2003.

Iran accepted the nomination on Monday, ending an eight-month dispute caused by its rejection of David Reddaway as candidate for the job in January.

Sir Richard Dalton
Dalton is ambassador in Libya
Conservative newspapers in Iran had described Mr Reddaway as a Jewish Zionist and a spy.

The incident was regarded as a personal blow for Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who has made several visits to Iran recently to improve bilateral relations.

At the time Britain dismissed the criticisms and downgraded its relations with Iran to the level of charge d'affaires.

The BBC Tehran correspondent, Jim Muir, says the new appointment is timely, as war clouds gather over neighbouring Iraq.

Iran has been bracketed with Iraq as part of President Bush's axis of evil.

Given Britain's special relationship with Washington, our correspondent says it is uniquely placed to play a positive role in helping to reduce tensions.

'Positive signals'

Sir Richard Dalton joined the diplomatic service in 1970, and served in such places as Jordan, Oman, Israel and the United Nations.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei
Khamenei's Iran resumed diplomatic relations with Britain in 1999
He took up his post in Tripoli when Britain resumed diplomatic relations with Libya in 1999.

The PA news agency on Monday quoted a British spokesman as saying there had been "positive signals" which led to the new appointment being accepted.

The status of the Iranian ambassador in London is expected to be upgraded again soon.

Britain and Iran resumed full diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level in 1999 after a long break following the overthrow of the shah in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Relations improved further after moderates and hardliners alike condemned the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

See also:

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