Mon, 8 March 2021

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By Peter Bottomley MP and Lord Chiswick
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Foreign Office works to repair Iran relations after Boris Johnson gaffe

Foreign Office works to repair Iran relations after Boris Johnson gaffe
2 min read

The Foreign Office is working on a package of measures to ease relations with Iran after Boris Johnson’s “slip of the tongue” and ahead of his visit to the country later this year.


The Foreign Secretary sparked fury last week when he said Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "simply teaching people journalism" when she was detained in the country 18 months ago.

The Iranian authorities have told Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe - who was on holiday at the time of the arrest - that the comment could see her current five-year jail term doubled.

Mr Johnson withdrew the remark but refused to apologise. He suggested Tehran had misinterpreted what he said.

Any measures proposed by the Foreign Office would have to be in advance of Mr Johnson’s visit, so as not to appear part of an exchange deal.

A fellow inmate who has been released said that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent her first eight months in solitary confinement and had been interrogated while being forced to wear a hood.

Mr Johnson has also been accused of gaffe at a dinner in Bath on Saturday ¬organised to discuss Brexit and the Catalan crisis. The Foreign Secretary told attending Spaniards that trying to ban bullfighting was “political ¬correctness gone mad” despite the fact that many opposed the sport themselves.

A witness said: “He antagonised every Spaniard there. They fumed for the rest of the dinner. Bullfighting is the subject of lively debate. Some parts of Spain have banned it. The Spanish don’t like people painting a ¬caricature of their country as ¬bullfighting, flamenco and paella.”

 

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