THE IRANIAN Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s controversial visit to the UK last week was met with derision in the Jewish community, cynicism in Parliament, scepticism in the think-tanks and joyous welcome in Whitehall – where mandarins tend to take a longer view.

Mohammad Javad Zarif

 Javad Zarif

It is, after all, only 70 years since British troops finally ended their military occupation of Persia – leaving behind the highly-profitable (British-owned) Anglo-Persian Oil Company – the forerunner to BP. And who knows what opportunities may come of this latest thaw?

There is no thaw in Iran’s relations with Israel, however. For Jerusalem, convenient trade relations come a distant second to not being “wiped off the map”.

Israeli leaders are neither impressed by the nuclear deal nor with those who think it wipes the slate clean, and the sight of Zarif’s red carpet will be a red rag to the Israeli bull.

If the Tories are the friends they claim to be, David Cameron and Philip Hammond will turn the UK’s attention to Iranian meddling in the region, and turn up the heat around the dinner table – if table talk is indeed their modus operandi.