By Sanam Shantyael and Parisa Hafezi
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian diplomats expelled from Britain after radical youths stormed the British embassy in Tehran arrived home 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, most of whom appeared to be members of the hardline Basij militia, congregated at Imam Khomeini Airport.
Britain evacuated all diplomatic staff and closed its embassy in Tehran after it was stormed and ransacked Tuesday. France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands withdrew their ambassadors from Tehran in protest.
With swift condemnation from around the world, the embassy storming risks further isolating Iran which is already under several rounds of sanctions over the nuclear program that many countries fear is aimed at developing atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has yet to comment on the incident, an indication, some analysts say, that it was organized by rival hardliners within the faction-riven establishment.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has expressed regret over the embassy invasion, which it said was a spontaneous overflowing of anger during a student protest. Britain says there must have been at least tacit approval by the ruling establishment.
Speaking to reporters at the airport, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast warned Britain's European Union partners not to allow the diplomatic row to worsen their own ties with the Islamic Republic.
"The British government is trying to extend to other European countries the problem between the two of us, but of course we have told European countries not to subject their ties with us with the kind of problems that existed between Iran and Britain," he was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
(Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Rosalind Russell)