The Prime Minister spoke to President Rouhani earlier this afternoon and they had substantive discussions on 3 issues: the E3+3 negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, bilateral relations and Yemen. At the start President Rouhani thanked the Prime Minister for the message he had sent at the weekend offering his condolences for the death of President Rouhani’s mother.
On the E3+3 negotiations, both leaders expressed their commitment to securing a deal. They both agreed that the ongoing discussions in Switzerland and the possibility of securing a political framework by the end of the month presented a historic opportunity. The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of Iran showing flexibility on the outstanding issues in order for a deal to be reached. The Prime Minister also pointed out that Iran needed to address the concerns of the wider international community by showing that Iran’s nuclear programme was being developed exclusively for peaceful purposes.
On bilateral relations they both welcomed increased engagement between British and Iranian officials and the gradual rebuilding of bilateral relations. The Prime Minister said that we were still keen to reopen our embassy in Tehran but that there were still a number of outstanding issues that would need to be resolved. As and when they are, this could lead to a real step change in relations.
Finally, on Yemen, they discussed the importance of ensuring that Al Qaeda and ISIL were not able to take advantage of the deterioration in the political situation to gain a foothold there. The Prime Minister said that the best way to do this is by supporting President Hadi as the legitimate leader of Yemen. The Prime Minister emphasised that there needs to be a political process to restore stability and, as part of that, other countries should not be supporting the Houthi rebels but rather encouraging all the different parties in Yemen to come together in a political process.