Germany has limited patience on Iran, new FM says

BERLIN (JTA) — A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, Germany’s new Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on his first official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Guido Westerwelle, of the Free Democratic Party, also urged quick resumption of Middle East peace talks, with a two-state solution as the goal.

Meeting Monday in Jerusalem with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, Westerwelle said Germany’s "patience [with Iran] is not endless." Further sanctions against the Islamic Republic are possible, with or without the cooperation of other countries, he added. Lieberman stressed the importance of international unity on the matter.

Westerwelle’s visit comes on the eve of the second annual German-Israel joint cabinet meeting — a unique program initiated in March 2008 by Chancellor Angela Merkel during her first official visit to Israel. The meetings are to take place alternately in Israel and Germany.

During his visit this week, Westerwelle, who was sharply critical of Israel’s settlement policy in his recent opening address in Berlin as foreign minister, also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayad. But he did not bring up the issue of settlements in public statements, according to the French news agency AFP.

The foreign minister also visited Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem. According to reports, Westerwelle wrote in the guestbook that "We will not forget. Our responsibility remains — our friendship grows."

Westerwelle met Tuesday with Israeli President Shimon Peres before returning to Berlin.
 

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