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1st LD Writethru: Johnson to visit Iran in first trip as British foreign secretary

Xinhua,December 08, 2017 Adjust font size:

LONDON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Boris Johnson is expected to travel to Tehran this weekend in his first trip to Iran as British foreign secretary in a bid to win the release of the jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, local media reported Thursday.

During his upcoming two-day visit, Johnson is also expected to seek to put British-Iranian relations on a new footing, pointing to Britain's strong defense of the Iranian nuclear deal signed in 2015.

Johnson has played down expectations of an immediate breakthrough in the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held in a Tehran jail for nearly two years.

In a sign that an immediate breakthrough is not imminent, Johnson said on Thursday her case was extremely difficult. Iran does not recognize dual national status, so Britain has a problem at the outset lobbying on her behalf.

Johnson has insisted the second set of charges laid against her are not related to his error last month in telling the foreign affairs select committee that she had been in Iran to train journalists.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, was arrested at Tehran airport two years ago with her daughter who has stayed in Tehran with her grandmother.

Johnson's Iran visit is also to take place at a time when major global banks are reluctant to build financial links with Iran due to the U.S. government's policies.

Iran believes the nuclear deal has not led to the flourishing of trade, or interconnection with the Western banking system as promised.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in early November that the United States could not formally certify Iran's compliance with the nuclear accord. Washington has also demanded inspections of Iran's military sites, which Tehran has rejected. Enditem