“Germany will acknowledge Israel’s security interests when making a decision regarding a submarine deal with Egypt,” Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle said during a news briefing in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Westerwelle was commenting on reports in Egypt claiming that a contract had been signed for the sale of two German submarines to the Egyptian navy. The deal has not yet received final approval from the German government. According to reports in the German press, Israel has protested the move and asked Germany to cancel the deal.
Westerwelle was speaking to German journalists after conferring with Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The meeting with Barak dealt with three main subjects: the Iranian nuclear program, the political stalemate with the Palestinians and German arm sales to Arab countries.
Israel is interested in reaching an arrangement on the problem of German arms sales to Arab countries as well as coming to understandings that would preserve Israel’s qualitative edge, as reported in Haaretz earlier on Sunday. Similar understandings exist between Israel and the United States.
At the start of the meeting with Barak, Westerwelle expressed his reservations about a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. “We will keep up sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iran. We still see room for diplomacy. We urgently call on Iran to enter into substantial negotiations,” he said.
“A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat not only to Israel but to the stability of the entire region. A nuclear-armed Iran is not an option,” he added.
Westerwelle was scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night.
Barak said at the meeting that Israel appreciates the German position concerning Iran and tried to downplay the differences between the two nations concerning arms sales. “The military cooperation between the two governments is excellent and is reflected, among other things, by the contract concerning the sale of a sixth submarine [to Israel],” he noted.
“Our ties with Germany stretch back many years and are based on a basic belief in democracy, values and remembrance, and we deeply appreciate this friendship,” Barak said.
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