Boris Johnson has 'frank' talks in Iran on jailed British woman



TEHRAN, Farshid Motahari (dpa)- British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson held "frank" talks on Saturday with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif about a jailed British-Iranian woman, the Press Association (PA) reported.
Johnson is trying to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was sentenced to five years in prison in January on charges of espionage and sedition. She was arrested in April 2016.



Johnson talked with Zarif about the case during a two-hour meeting which also dealt with other issues, PA reported.
A gaffe by Johnson in the British parliament last month led Iranian authorities to claim he had confirmed that Zaghari-Ratcliffe - who was on holiday in Iran to introduce her baby daughter to her parents - had trained journalists in the country.
The dual British-Iranian citizen had been working in London as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Iran does not recognize dual nationality.
Johnson and Zarif "discussed the full range of bilateral issues and they both spoke frankly about the obstacles in the relationship, including the foreign secretary's concerns about the consular cases of British-Iranian dual nationals," the PA quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying.
"Both emphasized their commitment to continuing to work together to improve the bilateral relationship."
Zaghari-Ratcliffe is due back in court on Sunday, PA reported.
Her husband welcomed Johnson's visit. "An honest discussion about Nazanin's case can only be good for us," Richard Ratcliffe told PA.
"Obviously, for us the weekend is big because of [Johnson's] visit, but it is also big because she has got the scheduled court case tomorrow," he said.
"I am obviously watching closely with hope, fingers crossed and excitement - I couldn't sleep at all last night."
The British Foreign Office has not named other British citizens held in Iran because their families have requested their cases be kept out of the public eye for safety reasons.
Johnson was also expected to meet Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who oversees Iran's nuclear activities, and is scheduled to meet President Hassan Rowhani on Sunday.
Johnson's trip is the first by a British foreign secretary to Iran since 2015 and only the third since 2003. The Foreign Office said Johnson will also press Iran to stick to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and discuss the humanitarian disaster unfolding in conflict-torn Yemen.
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Tuesday, December 12th 2017
Farshid Motahari
           


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