BERLIN - The head of the World Jewish Congress sharply criticized German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Wednesday for his recent visit to Iran, accusing him of putting business interests before morals and calling his approach to Tehran naive.
Lured by the prospect of an easing of economic sanctions against Iran following a landmark nuclear deal with western powers last week, Gabriel, who is also vice chancellor, made a three-day trip to Iran from Sunday to Tuesday, meeting President Hassan Rouhani and his top ministers.
"It is somewhat irritating that Germany's vice chancellor and economics minister waited only five days before flying to Tehran with a delegation of German business leaders," Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement provided to Reuters.
Lauder said Gabriel's offer to function as a bridge builder between Iran and Israel was naive given what he described as ongoing agitation from Tehran against Israel and the United States.
"It would have been much better to make new commercial relations with Iran dependent on a change in the regime's stance toward Israel," Lauder said.