Iranian Newspaper Says Tehran Is Expelling British Diplomat
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ In a tit-for-tat retaliation, Iran has ordered a British diplomat expelled one week after London threw out a high-ranking Iranian envoy.
The British Foreign Office confirmed today that the deputy head of its mission in Tehran, Hamish Cowell, had been ordered to leave. It described the expulsion as ″entirely unjustified.″
The agency also confirmed a British newspaper report last week that it expelled Vahid Bolourchi, deputy head of Iran’s mission in London. It said the action was taken because Bolourchi and other Iranians tried ″to distribute forged documents purporting to show that Britain’s policy in Bosnia was directed against (Slavic) Muslims.″
Cowell’s expulsion was the latest sally in the increasingly acrimonious relations between Tehran and London.
In April, Britain accused Tehran of having links to the Irish Republican Army, which has been fighting for 25 years to end British rule in Northern Ireland. Iran, in turn, accused Britain of sheltering anti-Iranian terrorists and of bugging its diplomatic offices in London.
The rift began in February 1989 when Britain severed ties with Iran after the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued an edict calling on Muslims to kill British novelist Salman Rushdie. Diplomatic links were restored the following year.
Each country has a diplomatic mission in the other, but they have not exchanged ambassadors. Both countries agreed to limit their offices to 15 diplomats.
The Iranian newspaper Salam, which first reported Cowell’s expulsion, suggested today that Britain had been low-key about the expulsion of the Iranian diplomat out of fear of further damaging weakened economic links.
Trade between the two countries fell by 30 percent in the first quarter of this year from the same period last year.