BERLIN (JTA) — For the first time in three years, a high-ranking Iranian politician is scheduled to take part in the annual Munich Security Conference.
The participation of Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi in the three-day conference beginning Friday has been roundly criticized by Jewish groups and critics of Germany’s dealings with the Islamic Republic.
In an announcement Wednesday from Berlin, leaders of the American Jewish Committee decried the visit of Salehi, who also is scheduled to speak at the German Council on Foreign Relations on Monday in Berlin.
"What purpose is served by once again giving an Iran government spinmeister a free platform in not one but two prestigious German fora? It makes absolutely no sense to us,” AJC Executive Director David Harris said in the statement.
Harris was in Berlin with some 50 lay leaders for high-level political meetings, marking the 15th anniversary of the AJC office in Berlin.
Iran’s "leaders come and go under the umbrella of dialogue," said Deidre Berger, director of the AJC office in Berlin. "Meanwhile, the Iranian nuclear weapons program is coming ever closer to completion, unquestionably a destabilization factor for the entire region.”
Michael Spaney, a spokesman for Stop the Bomb, an ecumenical watchdog association that focuses on the threat of Iran’s nuclear aspirations, said the political discussions would be used merely to "win time in their pursuit of an atomic bomb." Germany is sending signals of normalization rather than of pressure on Iran, Spaney said.
Stop the Bomb is planning a demonstration against Salehi in Berlin on Monday.