Switzerland rejects US, Jewish criticism of Iranian gas deal

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey on Tuesday brushed aside US and Jewish criticism of a multibillion-dollar gas deal she helped clinch with Iran, saying the Alpine republic does not need permission from the United States to advance its strategic interests. The brusque remarks by Calmy-Rey, who has ruffled feathers in Washington and Jerusalem with her outspoken positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, threatened to escalate tensions over a 25-year natural gas contract announced Monday between Swiss energy trading company EGL and the state-owned National Iranian Gas Export Company. "Switzerland is an independent country that has its own strategic interests to defend," Calmy-Rey told reporters.