Barak shakes hands with Westerwelle 370.
(photo credit:REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz)
BERLIN – While conceding that international talks with Iran have not been
substantial, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle reiterated the position
of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday, stressing that the Federal Republic seeks
a negotiated solution to the nuclear crisis.
In an interview with Die Welt
am Sonntag, Westerwelle said everything possible must be done “to prevent war
between Iran and Israel. We want a political and diplomatic solution” and a
nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable.
The foreign minister added that the
Islamic Republic’s work on nuclear weapons threatens more than the security of
Israel. If Tehran develops nuclear weapons, it would set off a nuclear arms race
in the Middle East, he said.
Asked by Die Welt am Sonntag
the window had closed for negotiations with Iran, Westerwelle answered, not
“I personally told Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and Defense
Minister [Ehud] Barak a few days ago in Jerusalem that, on the one hand, we
understand the concerns of Israel for its security.
On the other hand, I
advised [them] to seek a political solution from the international community,”
Westerwelle noted that the negotiations with Iran are not
substantial and that is why he, British Foreign Minister William Hague and
France’s top diplomat, Laurent Fabius, sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton, asking that the EU prepare a new round of sanctions.
contrast to Netanyahu’s severe doubts about the efficacy of sanctions,
Westerwelle said that “sanctions are showing an effect.”
He declined to
delineate red lines that would trigger greater action to rope in Iran’s nuclear
program. In sharp contrast to the Dutch and the British, who have retained the
military option against Iran’s recalcitrant position, the German foreign
minister rejected military action.
Asked about German Defense Minister
Thomas de Maizière’s statement that Israel’s right to strike Iran is legitimate
but not wise, Westerwelle said the Merkel administration is working on a
Germany has refused to break diplomatic relations
with Iran and is considered one of the weak links in the European effort to
include Hezbollah in the EU terror list. It also remains Iran’s largest European
trade partner, with an annual bilateral trade volume hovering around 4 billion
Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal and his British counterpart
Hague have both urged the EU to ban Hezbollah, which is viewed as Iran’s long
arm within Europe.
The number of Hezbollah members in the Federal
Republic rose from 900 in 2010 to 950 in 2012.
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