New UK foreign secretary to push Iran on Zaghari-Ratcliffe

New UK foreign secretary to push Iran counterpart on jailed Brit Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
3 min read
20 September, 2021
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will push the Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other British nationals being held by Iran in a Monday meeting.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has be held by Iran for five years [Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images]

The UK's new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is to press Tehran on detained British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and others during a meeting on Monday with her Iranian counterpart.

The Conservative MP for South West Norfolk will speak with Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said in a statement.

Both ministers are relatively recent appointments to their roles, with Truss having been in post for less than a week.

"I will be asking Iran to ensure the immediate and permanent release of all arbitrarily detained British nationals in Iran, and to begin working with us to mend our fractured relations," Truss said.

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It comes as campaigners for Zaghari-Ratcliffe urged the UK to place sanctions on 10 Iranian figures allegedly linked to Tehran's use of hostage-taking efforts.

Iran has jailed a number of dual nationals during their visits to the Islamic Republic, on what human rights groups say are false allegations of spying and other charges.

Charity project manager Zaghari-Ratcliffe will have been held by Iran in "arbitrary detention" for 2,000 days later this week, the FCDO said.

Truss will urge Tehran to set free Zaghari-Ratcliffe , fellow British Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori, and tri-national Morad Tahbaz, who is also a US citizen, and "all UK nationals unjustly trapped in Iran".

Initially imprisoned in 2016 over espionage allegations she rejects, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given another year's sentence this April.

It has been said officials with the Islamic Republic informed her and her relatives what has happened to Zaghari-Ratcliffe is part of an effort to gain leverage over the UK about a historic £400 million debt.

On Sunday, Truss spoke with Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, by telephone. He said he felt his wife's ordeal "may have a while to run still" in an interview with Sky News.

Also on Truss' agenda is the Iran nuclear deal, first agreed in 2015, but which has been in crisis since late 2017 when then-US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the pact, despite America having previously acknowledged Tehran was living up to the agreement's terms.

"The UK, US and our international partners are fully committed to a nuclear deal, but every day that Iran continues to delay talks whilst escalating its own nuclear programme means there is less space for diplomacy," Truss said.

Truss is set to highlight the US proposal to relieve sanctions against Iran if it resumes "full compliance with its nuclear commitments", according to the FCDO.