German FM set to discuss Iran with PM, Barak

Westerwelle says if Iran doesn't come back to negotiating table, sanctions will be necessary "not next year but in next weeks."

By
September 9, 2012 01:04
1 minute read.
Barak shakes hands with Westerwelle

Barak shakes hands with Westerwelle 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz)

 
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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived in Israel Saturday for a brief visit in which he will meet Sunday with Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss the stalled peace talks and regional issues, including Iran and Syria.

Germany is among those countries calling for increased sanctions against Iran, unless it halts its nuclear program.

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“Sanctions are necessary and soon. I can’t see there is really a constructive will on the Iranian side for substantial talks,” Westerwelle told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus on Friday.

“If they will not come back to the table, then probably the next round is necessary. This is not something for next year, we are talking about next weeks,” he said.

On Thursday, he told a German newspaper Osnabrücker Zeitung, “The situation is very serious. I can understand the people in Israel who, in light of their country’s vulnerability, are worried about their existence” due to Iran’s talk about the annihilation of their country.

The visit is the second one Westerwelle has made to Israel this year, and is part of the close cooperation between the two countries. It is also in preparation for the German- Israeli government consultations that are due to take place in Berlin later this year.

But the visit, in which he will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, comes on the heels of a June decision by a Cologne district court in Germany to ban circumcision.

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Although the ban applied only to the Cologne region, doctors across the country refused to carry out operations because of what they saw as a risk of legal action.

On Thursday, Berlin’s senate said doctors could legally circumcise infant boys for religious reasons in its region, given certain conditions.

Berlin became the first of Germany’s states to protect the practice while the national government works on a new law to legalize the practice across the country and overrule the Cologne decision.

Westerwelle has said that Jewish life in Germany must be possible.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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