November 16, 2017 The U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] is drafting a package of measures aimed at easing tensions with Iran prior to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit to Tehran, according to the Guardian newspaper.
It is hoped that the proposal will also help secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman who was arrested on April 3, 2016 for allegedly “plotting to topple the Iranian regime.”
Nazanin’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said on November 11 that he would like to meet Boris Johnson and, if possible, join him on his forthcoming visit to Tehran.
Ratcliffe said: “I think it’ll happen now, when two weeks ago I wasn’t so sure. I think it’s really important that he gets on a plane to go and see Nazanin. I’d really like to go with him, and that’s a serious request I’ve put to the Foreign Office.” Johnson has apparently agreed to meet with Ratcliffe.
Meanwhile, Johnson is trying to downplay his blunder earlier this month, when he suggested that Nazanin “may have been visiting Iran for training journalists.” The Iranian state media has claimed that Johnson’s comments “inadvertently revealed the truth about her visit.”
Johnson has since apologized for his error. Nazanin’s family and employers have always maintained that she was on holiday at the time of her arrest. The FCO believes that Johnson’s comments have reduced his chances of meeting Nazanin before the end of the year.
“The FCO faces a dilemma over what step to take next, because any package of measures designed to ease relations was likely to have been proposed regardless of Johnson’s mistake,” the Guardian wrote. The paper added: “Iran believes that the FCO package would help resolve outstanding issues. Iran would want the measures to be announced before the foreign secretary’s visit, so it would not appear that they were designed to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe.”
Following her arrest in 2016, Kermanshah Province’s Tharallah Division released a statement claiming that Nazanin was the “leader of a network affiliated with foreign enemy powers that carried out operations against Iran.” The Iranian judiciary and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC] are well aware of the importance of Nazanin’s release to the UK government.