TEHRAN : Iran and Britain on Monday named non-resident charges d’affaires to each other’s capital, in moves aimed at restoring diplomatic ties severed after the British embassy was ransacked in 2011.

Mohammad Hassan “Habibollah-zadeh will travel to London in the near future to examine the situation of Iran’s possessions and buildings in Britain and to improve consular activities,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman said, quoted by Fars news agency. The Foreign Ministry in London, meanwhile, named Ajay Sharma as its new non-resident charge d’affaires to Iran. “Mr Sharma will take up his appointment immediately,” it said in a statement. The British diplomat said he hoped to make his first visit to Tehran later this month. “I am very much looking forward to renewing direct UK contact with the Iranian government and society,” Sharma said in a statement.

“This is very much in the interests of both our countries.”

Sharma worked as deputy head of Britain’s Tehran mission between 2007 and 2008 and has held additional diplomatic posts in Moscow, Paris, London and Ankara.

His appointment comes after nuclear talks between Iran and global powers broke up at the weekend without a deal, although France said Monday that negotiators were close to an agreement.

The Foreign Office said Sharma would travel to Iran regularly and described his appointment as “an important step towards improving the bilateral relationship”.

“Mr Sharma’s appointment will enable the UK to have more detailed and regular discussions with Iran on a range of issues, including conditions under which our embassies could eventually be reopened,” it added.

Britain ordered the closure of Iran’s embassy in London after closing its own in Tehran following the storming of the compound by hundreds of angry Islamist students in November 2011.

They were protesting at Western sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear drive, and ransacked the building as well as the British ambassador’s residence in north Tehran.

However, after the surprise victory in June elections of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani as Iranian president with a pledge to engage the world constructively, London and Tehran have been working towards restoring ties.

The two sides agreed in October to assign non-resident charges d’affaires, a diplomatic post that is one level below ambassador.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif twice on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.