Iran has rejected outright the demand of Germany’s economy minister that it recognize Israel as a precondition for full normalization of ties between Berlin and Tehran.
“Ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Germany are based on mutual respect and interests, and no precondition would be acceptable in this regard,” Bahram Qasemi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said on Saturday, according to the official Iranian news outlet Press TV.
Sigmar Gabriel is due to visit Tehran on Sunday as part of Germany’s efforts to renew business ties with the Islamic Republic following the last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers that eased international sanctions in exchange for curbs to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Ahead of the visit, Gabriel told Der Spiegel that Germany could not move ahead with full normalization of ties until the Iranian regime accepted Israel’s right to exist.
“The Islamic Republic considers defending the rights of the people of Palestine to be a fixed plank of its foreign policy and will never and under no circumstances forsake the Palestinian cause,” Qasemi said.
Qasemi also brushed off Gabriel’s statement that he would raise the regime’s human rights record in his meetings in Tehran.
Gabriel’s comments were “irrelevant,” as “the Islamic Republic does not allow any country to interfere in its domestic affairs,” Qasemi insisted, according to Press TV.
Gabriel was among the first Western leaders to lead a delegation to Tehran following the removal of key nuclear-related sanctions in January. Germany seeks to reclaim its former position as one of Iran’s major trading partners, but has long criticized the regime for its virulent anti-Israel stance, regime-backed Holocaust denial conferences, and frequent calls for Israel’s destruction.