Britain evacuates families of embassy staff in Iran

Foreign Office warns against non-essential travel to country amid continued violence following disputed election

The Foreign Office said today it was evacuating the families of embassy staff in Iran and advised against all non-essential travel to the country after the violent crackdown on street protests following the disputed presidential election.

The decision comes after the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday described Britain as the “most treacherous” of Iran’s enemies and blamed foreign interference for the unrest in the country.

In response, Iran’s ambassador to London was summoned to the Foreign Office and told that Khamenei’s remarks were unacceptable. Gordon Brown later condemned the “repression” and “brutality” used against the protesters.

The Foreign Office said today: “The ongoing violence has … had a significant impact on the families of our staff, who have been unable to carry on their lives as normal. As a result, we are withdrawing dependants of embassy staff until the situation improves.

“We do not believe that it is necessary to reduce the number of staff at this time; however, we are monitoring the situation with the utmost vigilance. The security of our staff is of paramount importance.”

The Foreign Office also updated its advice to travellers, saying that visitors to Iran should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings. “Further violence is possible,” it said.

The Foreign Office said it did not believe it was necessary for British nationals already in Iran to leave the country, but it was monitoring the situation “with the utmost vigilance”.

Haroon Siddique
Monday 22 June 2009 17.07 BST

Source: Guardian

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