Iran called on the West to avoid a deepening diplomatic crisis following the storming of the British embassy in Tehran, saying it was an issue between Tehran and London alone, Iranian media reported on Saturday.
Britain closed its embassy after Tuesday’s incursion by hardline youths and expelled all Iranian diplomats from London. The fallout for Tehran spread when several other countries recalled their envoys, including France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
“The British government is -trying to extend to other European countries the problem between the two of us,” Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was reported as saying by the Fars news agency. “But of course we have told European countries not to subject their ties with us to the kind of problems that existed between Iran and Britain.”
Iranian diplomats expelled from London arrived home on Saturday to supporters bearing flowers and chanting “Death to England.”
“Spy embassy closed for good,” read one of the many placards carried by the crowd of some 100 men and women, at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport, most of whom appeared to be members of the Basij militia.
With swift condemnation from around the world, the embassy storming risks further isolating Iran, which is already under several rounds of sanctions.
Mixed signals from Tehran over the attack have drawn attention to the deepening political rift within the Iranian leadership, a split created after Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential vote.
Iran’s foreign ministry immediately apologized for the storming of the embassy, but some rivals of hawkish Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised it, attributing it to a spontaneous outburst by students in reaction to Britain’s “historically hostile Iran policy.”