Britain is set to reopen its embassy in Iran, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on Tuesday.
The move came as the West steps up its engagement with Iran amid rapid jihadist advances in neighbouring Iraq.
Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are advancing on the Iraqi capital Baghdad after a week-long offensive which has seen them make key gains, including taking the second city of Mosul.
“I have therefore now decided the circumstances are right to reopen our embassy in Tehran. There are a range of practical issues that we will need to resolve first,” Hague said in a written statement to parliament.
“However, it is our intention to reopen the Embassy in Tehran with a small initial presence as soon as these practical arrangements have been made.”
His statement did not directly mention the situation in Iraq but noted that “Iran is an important country in a volatile region”.
Britain closed its embassy in Tehran in 2011 after it was stormed by a mob, and suspended full diplomatic relations with Iran.
It revived diplomatic relations with Iran last November, appointing a non-resident charge d’affairs.
The United States, a close ally of Britain, has said it could launch air strikes and act jointly with its arch-enemy Iran to shore up the Iraqi government after a rampage by Sunni Islamist insurgents across Iraq that has scrambled alliances in the Middle East.
Hague has ruled out any military involvement in Iraq by Britain but said a British “operational liaison and reconnaissance team” arrived in Baghdad at the weekend and he has said that Britain will provide humanitarian assistance as needed.
Additional reporting by Reuters