Britain expels two Iranian diplomats

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Indy Politics

Britain is to expel two Iranian diplomats in the wake of the street protests that followed the country's controversial election, Gordon Brown announced today.

The Prime Minister said the move followed Iran ordering two UK diplomats to leave the country over allegations "absolutely without foundation".

Telling the Commons of the tit-for-tat diplomatic moves, the Prime Minister said: "It is with regret that I inform the House that Iran yesterday took the unjustified step of expelling two British diplomats over allegations which are absolutely without foundation.

"In response to that action, we informed the Iranian ambassador earlier today that we would expel two Iranian diplomats from their embassy in London.

"I am disappointed that Iran has placed us in this position but we will continue to seek good relations with Iran and to call for the regime to respect the human rights and democratic freedoms of the Iranian people."

Conservative leader David Cameron said the expulsion of the British diplomats was "clearly not acceptable" and backed the retaliatory measure.

It is understood that the Iranians ordered the expulsion of the two officials for "activities inconsistent with their diplomatic status" - diplomatic language for spying.

The Foreign Office described the Iranian allegations as "baseless".

A spokeswoman said the Iranians appeared to be trying to blame Britain for the current unrest, endangering embassy staff in the process.

"We believe the Iranian decision to expel two members of staff from the British embassy is baseless," the spokeswoman said.

"We think the Government of Iran is seeking to blame the UK and other outsiders for what is an Iranian reaction to an Iranian issue.

"This has a potential impact on our staff safety and is unacceptable. We have taken the decision to reciprocate."