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Iranian Foreign Ministry expresses regret over British embassy storming

11-30-2011 08:24 BJT

TEHRAN, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Foreign Ministry expressed regret over the storming of the British embassy in Tehran and the ensuing incidents on Tuesday.

In a statement posted on its website, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that it felt regretted over what it called the " unacceptable" behavior of some protesters in front of the British embassy during the day.

On Tuesday, thousands of angry Iranians staged protests in front of the British embassy in central Tehran and the British Council compound in the Qolhak area in northern Tehran, one day after Iran's Guardian Council of the Constitution, the country's highest legislative body, unanimously approved reducing the diplomatic ties with Britain in response to its "hostile" policy against Iran.

Britain severed all links with Iran's banks last week as part of its new financial sanctions in the wake of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency that expressed concern over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

Chanting anti-Britain slogans, the protesters, mostly local university students, urged the Iranian government to expel the British ambassador. Some clashed with the guards, set fire to the British flag, smashed windows, and hurled Molotov Cocktail explosives and stones at the embassy building. Some even took out documents from the offices, tore them apart and set them ablaze.

Local media reported that despite the security police's attempts to disperse the protesters, they managed to re-enter the embassy in different intervals.

Meanwhile, some 300 students rallied before the British Council compound, and about 100 of them forced their way into the council building despite police prevention.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said earlier that six British staff were taken hostage by the protesters who broke into the council's compound. According to local Fars news agency, the six were released later on the day by the security police.

Although Tehran's Police Chief Hosein Sajedinia was quoted by Mehr as saying later on Tuesday that the situation in front of the British embassy and the council had calmed down, and that the protesters were forced out of the buildings and some were arrested, the British Foreign Office still resorted to tough languages following the intrusion and vandalism which it said was "utterly unacceptable."

"There has been a incursion by a significant number of demonstrators into our embassy premises ... This is a fluid situation and details are still emerging," said a Foreign Office spokesperson, who stressed that the office is "outraged."

Also, the White House condemned "in the strongest terms" the embassy storming in Tehran.

"Iran has a responsibility to protect the diplomatic missions present in its country and the personnel stationed at them," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

"We urge Iran to fully respect its international obligations, to condemn the incident, to prosecute the offenders, and to ensure that no further such incidents take place either at the British embassy or any other mission in Iran," he added.

In its statement on Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry said that it respects international regulations concerning the security of diplomatic centers and emphasizes its obligations to ensure the security of diplomats and diplomatic places in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It added that the Iranian foreign ministry will handle the case through legal channels.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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