Britain and Iran announced today they have restored diplomatic relations, which were severed over the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's call for Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses."
The restoration--announced at the United Nations by British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and in a statement from Iran's U.N. Mission--said the embassies would reopen in London and Tehran within a month. An announcement was also made in Tehran by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The Iranian statement gave no reason for the restoration of relations, saying only that it was based on "mutual respect."
Hurd said that in recent statements Iran had made clear its respect for international law and had pledged not to interfere in the internal matters of other nations. That was taken as an assurance that Iran would not try to send assassins after Rushdie, who is believed to be in Britain.
Hurd said the other outstanding issues between the two countries, including the four British hostages held in Lebanon by Islamic fundamentalists loyal to Iran's Shiite revolution, are better discussed at the full diplomatic level.
Iran has recently been less hostile to the West and has said it is cooperating with the U.N.'s economic boycott against Iraq, designed to force it to withdraw its forces from Kuwait.
In February, 1989, Khomeini issued the death threat against Rushdie, saying his novel, which offended Muslims worldwide, blasphemed Islam. Iranian officials did not terminate the threat when Khomeini died in June, 1989.
They had demanded that Britain condemn the book as a condition to restoring relations. That demand was apparently dropped.