Reuters: The departure of British Prime Minister Tony Blair could have a “positive impact” if it leads to a change in the country’s foreign policy, Iran’s foreign minister said. TEHRAN (Reuters) – The departure of British Prime Minister Tony Blair could have a “positive impact” if it leads to a change in the country’s foreign policy, Iran’s foreign minister said.
Britain under Blair has been a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush in Iraq and also in efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at developing atom bombs. Tehran denies the charge.
Bilateral relations between Tehran and London hit another low in March when Iranian forces seized 15 British naval personnel in the Gulf. They were released unharmed almost two weeks later.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Blair’s announcement on Thursday he would step down next month after a decade as prime minister would be a “break for the Labor Party and the hard situation” they are facing.
“If there will be a correction to some extent … in their foreign policy … then definitely it can have positive impact as a possible factor in the foreign policy in some fields such as Iran,” Mottaki said on state television late on Thursday.
“Let’s see … how the policies towards Iran will be,” he added, referring to Britain under Blair’s expected successor, finance minister Gordon Brown.
Blair’s popularity has suffered since he sent British forces to join the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. A Labor Party rebellion in September forced him to say he would quit within a year, opening the way for Brown to take over.
Iran denies U.S. accusations it is fomenting instability in neighboring Iraq and has called on foreign forces to leave Iraq, blaming their presence for fuelling the bloodshed plaguing the country.