Report: Iran’s president to visit Germany this month

The slated visit, which has been shrouded in silence by the Merkel administration, may strain the so-called “special relationship” between Israel and Germany.

September 10, 2016 22:16
2 minute read.
hassan rouhani

Iran President Hassan Rouhani at the Campidoglio palace in Rome, Italy, January 25, 2016 . (photo credit: REUTERS)

BERLIN –Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani will visit the German capital late this month, the Islamic Republic’s transportation minister, Abbas Akhoundi, said in the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper.

The slated visit, which has been shrouded in silence by the Merkel administration, may strain the so-called “special relationship” between Israel and Germany. Berlin has said repeatedly that it will not normalize diplomatic relations with Iran until Tehran recognizes the existence of Israel. From Jerusalem’s point of view, a visit by Rouhani would be tantamount to a normalization of relations.

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The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi met with German intelligence officials on Tuesday in Berlin, which is believed to be the curtain raiser for Rouhani’s first visit to the Federal Republic.

“It worries me that the public has not learned about the event,” Martin Patzelt, a Bundestag deputy from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, told Taggespiegel. “The federal government has to be questioned on why the visit has been kept secret while Iran’s government reports about it.”

Patzelt also questioned who Alavi met with and what goal “the intelligence head of one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships had for conducting talks.”

Alavi, who in 2013 said Israel “belongs in the trash bin of history,” met with Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, the German government’s intelligence commissioner, Taggespiegel reported on Thursday. It is not known whether Fritsche raised Alavi’s genocidal comments.

Previous Iranian officials have denied the Holocaust and called for the destruction of Israel during visits to Berlin, including Ali Larijani, the head of Iran’s parliament who, at the 2007 Munich security conference, said it is an “open question” as to whether the Holocaust took place. A CDU politician accused him of Holocaust denial, but German authorities chose not to file a criminal charge against him. Holocaust denial is illegal in the Federal Republic.

Ali Larijani’s brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is the head of the Iranian human rights council, said in 2008 during a German Foreign Ministry-sponsored event near Berlin’s Holocaust memorial that the Holocaust did not take place and called for Israel’s destruction, Mohammad Larijani had been invited by German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steinmeier, who chose not file a criminal complaint against Larijani.

According to German media reports, Steinmeier has led the charge to secure the Rouhani visit to Berlin.

Iran executed at least 37 people from August 2 to August 27, 2016, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The NGO wrote on September 8 that “Mohammad Javad Larijani claimed Iran was doing members of the international community a favor by executing drug traffickers.”

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