German minister's visit to Tehran controversial despite sign of cooperation agreements

TEHRAN, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — The scheduled meetings of the visiting German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel with Iranian senior officials were canceled on Tuesday due to the controversial remarks of the former over boost of bilateral ties.

Gabriel’s planned meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was canceled, according to Tasnim news agency.

Gabriel had been also scheduled to hold talks with Iranian Majlis (parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani earlier in the day, but that meeting was called off as well.

Before visiting Iran, Gabriel said that Tehran should recognize Israel before Berlin normalizes ties with Tehran.

Iran could have normal and friendly relations with Germany “only when it accepted Israel’s right to exist,” Gabriel said in an interview with the Germany weekly Der Spiegel.

He had also announced plans to “raise concerns about Iran’s role in the war in Syria and its human rights record” during his visit to Tehran.

Larijani’s special assistant, Hossein Amir Abadollahian, commented over the cancellation of the meeting, saying that “it is vital for Iran to preserve its principled stances and political independence.”

Gabriel’s comments also sparked bitter controversy in Iran, with Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani saying that he would have never permitted such a person to visit Iran if he had been in the administration or the Foreign Ministry’s shoes, Tasnim reported.

Besides, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Saturday the Islamic republic would never recognize Israel as a precondition for normalizing ties with Germany.

“Ties between Iran and Germany are based on mutual respects and interests, and no precondition would be acceptable in this regard,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.

“Iran considers defending the rights of the people of Palestine as a principle of its foreign policy and will never, and under no circumstances, forsake the Palestinian cause,” Qasemi added.

Gabriel said here Monday that it would take time to revive the relations between Iran and Germany, official IRNA news agency reported.

Gabriel made the remarks in the 5th meeting of the German-Iranian Joint Economic Commission.

With reference to the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal early this year, Germany is committed to reviving economic relations with Iran, he said, adding that, however, it needs time to this end.

Gabriel also urged German private sector to start business with their Iranian counterparts.

Germany supports Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), he added.

On Monday, Iran and Germany signed several cooperation documents in fields of banking, oil and gas, environment, urbanization, investment, business and energy.

An Iranian official said Monday that banking problems hampering the expansion of Iran’s trade ties with Germany should be resolved.

“With the removal of banking problems, Iranian and German companies could have useful talks with each other and develop their ties,” chairman of Iran-Germany joint chamber of commerce Gholam Hossein Shafe’ei said.

He hailed economic relations between Tehran and Berlin as “historical,” noting that, however, these relations have witnessed some ups and downs over the past years.

Following the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal in January, Tehran is struggling to restore its ties with European countries which had been affected by the U.S.-led economic and financial sanctions.

The deal which was sealed in July last year put an end to the decade-long controversial issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

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