Germany presses US to lift Iran sanctions as it courts closer ties

Germany wants to help Iran push ahead with reforms, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday, adding he believed the Islamic Republic was a reliable credit partner as he courted closer trade ties. "Our aim is to support the current government with its path to opening up to the world," Gabriel said in Tehran, adding he would raise topics such as Iran's role in the war in Syria, Israel and legal state issues with the Iranian leadership.

Gabriel said Iran was a reliable credit partner that kept agreements as a rule. Gabriel has flown to Iran for a two-day visit with a plane-load of executives who are keen to rebuild trade, but remaining US sanctions and political concerns have so far held back a hoped-for business boom. Speaking at the opening of an economic forum, Gabriel said Germany wanted to "remind the United States of the commitment to get to an effective dismantling of sanctions."

Iran's Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Khazaei said 10 economic agreements would be signed on the sidelines of Gabriel's visit. "I hope that this will smooth the way between both countries," he said. Germany appears to be inching towards better relations with the Islamic Republic as it courts closer economic and security ties, highlighted by a reported intelligence meeting last month. On September 6, German intelligence authorities met with Iran’s Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi in Berlin, according to the Tasnim News Agency in Tehran, a paper with close links to the Revolutionary Guards Corps. It is remains unclear what the intelligence officials discussed, but according to Dr. Kazem Moussavi, an Iranian exile in Germany, the meeting was held in preparation for a possible visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhan later this year. "It would be a huge scandal if German security authorities collaborated in these efforts. Alavi should be brought to justice rather than enjoying an official reception,” Moussavi said. Officials in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration have repeatedly said it will not normalize relations with Iran until the Islamic Republic recognizes Israel’s right to exist. Critics see the possible Rouhani visit as Germany abandoning Israel in a crucial foreign policy matter.

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