British Embassy In Tehran Reopens

British embassyNearly four years after it was closed, Britain has reopened its embassy in Iran.

British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, is in Tehran with a delegation of business leaders for a ceremony to mark the reopening.

It held about the same time, Iran was also reopening its embassy in London.

The UK embassy was closed in 2011 after it was stormed by protesters during a demonstration against sanctions.

Mr Hammond is the first UK Foreign Secretary to visit Iran since 2003.

The visit came weeks after Iran reached a deal with six world powers aimed at curbing its nuclear programme.

Earlier, Mr Hammond said the  nuclear deal and the election of Hassan Rouhani as President in June 2013,  had drawn greater engagement with the western world and had been “important milestones” in the improved relations between the two countries.

In November 2011 Iran announced it was expelling the UK’s ambassador in retaliation for British support for tougher sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Hundreds of protesters stormed embassy compounds two days later, smashing windows, torching cars and burning Union flags.

The UK responded by closing the Iranian embassy in London later that month.

But following the election of Rouhani and an agreement on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear programme, the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, proposed the reopening of the embassy in June last year.

Since then, the reopening of the embassy had been held up by technical problems over visa policy and communications equipment, Mr Hammond said.

Angelina Jolie And William Hague Call For Action Against Rape

angelina jolieBritish Foreign Secretary, William Hague, alongside Hollywood actress, Angelina Jolie on Wednesday launched an international protocol on how to document and investigate sexual violence in conflict.

“If all countries applied these standards then it will greatly strengthen prosecutions for rape in conflict and help to secure a dramatic increase in successful convictions,” Hague said.

The pair is co-chairing the summit at the ExCel conference centre in London’s docklands, which runs until June 13.
Up to 1,200 government ministers, military and judicial officials and activists from about 150 nations are attending the four day conference, which is a call for action to protect women, children and men from rape and sex attacks in war zones.

“The courage of survivors and activists must now be matched by the determination of governments and that is why this summit aims to galvanise the international community into action,” Hague said at the launch.

Actress Jolie, who is also special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that impunity for sexual crimes in conflict zones is an “intolerable situation” and called for justice for victims.

“We all know how hard it is to secure convictions for rape even in stable democratic countries, so we have to work even harder to make justice possible in fragile countries, and that is the purpose of this protocol,” she said.

Jolie’s involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she travelled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and saw the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.

Hague became involved in Jolie’s campaign against sexual violence in war zones after being alerted to the issue following the actress’s 2011 directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, that was set against the backdrop of the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 20,000 women believed raped.

In 2013, the unusual partnership led to the launch of a declaration, now signed by about 150 countries, pledging to end impunity and provide justice and safety for victims but Hague said the summit would take this further.

Ukraine Crisis: Government Dismisses Self-Rule Referendums ‘A Farce’

Ukraine referendumPro-Russian rebels declared a landslide victory in Sunday’s referendum held in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions with Pro-Russian separatists in the region said to have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the “self-rule”.

The Ukrainian government, however, have dismissed the vote as a farce and the European Union has criticized the referendum.

The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said: “These votes, these attempts at referendums have zero credibility in the eyes of the world. They are illegal by anybody’s standards, they don’t meet any standard, not a single standard of objectivity, transparency, fairness or being properly conducted as a public referendum or election and indeed the people organizing them didn’t even pretend to meet any of those standards. The important thing is that the Ukrainian elections go ahead on the 25th of May.”

However, a Luhansk election commission official said residents overwhelmingly supported the referendum.

Like officials in the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic”, a spokesman for the Luhansk referendum said that more than 90 percent of residents voted in favour.

Russia said on Monday it respected the outcome of the referendum and that the results should be implemented peacefully.

The European Union meanwhile is set to step up pressure on Russia by taking a first cautious step towards extending sanctions to companies, as well as people, linked to Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

EU Agrees More Sanctions On Moscow, As Separatists Tighten Grip On East Ukraine

UkraineThe European Union (EU) has agreed to widen sanctions against Moscow, as Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern Ukraine.

At the end of a meeting of European foreign minister on Monday, British Foreign Minister, William Hague, said the ministers agreed to expand a list of Russians barred from travelling or doing business in the EU.

“Work would begin to come up with new names for the sanctions list,” Hague said.

In Washington, White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said President Barak Obama would speak to Russian President, Vladimir Putin, by phone later on Monday. Washington is also planning to expand its sanctions list. Russia has so far shrugged off targeted sanctions.

Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern Ukraine on Monday, expanding their control after the government failed to follow through on threatened military crackdown leaving Moscow’s partisans essentially unopposed.

Rebels in the town of Slaviansk, where the authorities failed to follow through with their announced “anti-terrorist” operation, called for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help.

Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksander Turchinov, said the offensive against the rebels would still go ahead. But in a sign of discord behind the scenes in Kiev, he sacked the state security chief in charge of the operation.

In Donetsk, rebels holed up in the administrative headquarters of a province that is home to 10 per cent of Ukraine’s population said they planned to seize control of infrastructure and the levers of state power.

They have declared an independent “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and sought Putin’s protection if they are attacked.

Rebels have also seized buildings in around 10 other towns and cities across other eastern provinces which form the heartland of Ukraine’s heavy industry.

In a bid to undercut the rebels’ demands, Turchinov held out the prospect of a countrywide referendum on the future shape of the Ukrainian state. Pro-Russian secessionists want separate referendums in their regions, which Kiev says is illegal.

The uprising in eastern Ukraine began eight days ago but has accelerated sharply in the past 48 hours, with separatists seizing ever more buildings, including arsenals filled with weapons. They have met little opposition.

Kiev says the separatists are organized by Moscow, seeking to repeat the seizure of the Crimea region, which Moscow occupied and annexed last month.

Russia says the armed men are all locals acting on their own, but Western officials say the uprising is too well-coordinated to be entirely spontaneous, and bears too many similarities to the Russian operation in Crimea.

Hague Condemns Bama Violence, Reiterates UK Support To Combat Terrorism

The UK Foreign Secretary; William Jefferson Hague has reacted fervidly to the recent extremist attack in north east Nigeria, as he reiterated UK’s support pointing out that the protection the citizens who are civilians is paramount.

According to a press statement released by through Rob Fitzpatrick; the Press, Political and Public Affairs Officer of the British High Commission, Abuja, Hague expressed his deep sadness over the multiple deaths in the town of Bama in the process of an attack launched by the Boko Haram making it the latest of a series attacks on unsuspecting civilians in the region of Borno State. He stated further that these attacks on innocent Nigerians have no justification whatsoever as he condemned the attacks in the strongest terms.

Hague said the growing insecurity and escalation of hostilities in north-east Nigeria is of deep concern and yesterday’s attack in Bama follows the terrible loss of life in the town of Baga last month and disturbing allegations of human rights violations.

The Foreign Secretary said Nigeria (Federal Government) is saddled with the responsibility to defend every Nigerian citizen from terrorism according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s 2013 Annual Human Rights report and the British Government will lend every support the Nigerian Government needs to tackle the challenges of insecurity that is stirring the country in the face, with the protection of citizens being paramount. He however asked the Nigerian Government to open an investigation into the Baga violence which claimed the lives of several innocent citizens

“I welcome the commitment by the Nigerian authorities to open an investigation into the events at Baga. It is important that the Nigerian Government investigates all such incidents rigorously, objectively and transparently.”