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German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Der Spiegel before his visit to Tehran on Sunday that Iran could have normal, friendly relations with Germany “only when it accepted Israel’s right to exist.”
“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," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday.
"In addition, we… deem the involvement of any third element [in the development of ties] as disruptive to bilateral relations,” he added.
Qassemi said, “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.”
Gabriel had also told the German weekly that he would raise concerns about Iran’s human rights record during the upcoming visit.
Qassemi dismissed the German politician’s position as “irrelevant,” saying, “The Islamic Republic does not allow any country to interfere in its domestic affairs.”
He also praised the present status and the past record of the bilateral ties between Iran and Germany and warned about attempts by ill-wishers to harm them.
Germany had for decades been Iran’s biggest European trading partner before a series of sanctions were tightened against the Islamic Republic under the pretext of its nuclear program.
Almost immediately after the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran in January on the back of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, the German government sent Gabriel to Tehran at the head of a major delegation to discuss post-sanctions business opportunities in the Islamic Republic.