Netanyahu Slams Ashton: Ask Iran About Its Gaza-bound Arms Boat

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tehran on landmark visit, meeting Rohani and Zarif, with Iran's nuclear activities set to dominate discussions.

Barak Ravid
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday lashed out at European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who was visiting Iran on a landmark visit, just days after Israel raided an Iranian ship carrying missiles bound for Gaza.

"The goal of seizing the arms ship was to expose Iran's true face," Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "I say this in order to bring it to the attention of Ms. Ashton, who is now visiting Tehran, and I wish to ask her whether she asked her hosts about the shipment of weapons to terrorist organizations."

Ashton began discussions with the Iranian government in Tehran on Sunday, in her first visit to the country since assuming the post more than five years ago.

Her visit is seen as another sign of thaw in Iran's strained relations with the West since the election of Iranian President Hassan Rohani in June.

Ashton kicked off the visit meeting with Rohani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, with Iran's nuclear activities set to dominate discussions. The EU foreign policy chief was also scheduled to meet with feminist and rights activists during her visit, and to publicly condemn the crackdown on human rights in Iran.

Formal talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program are to be held March 17-20 in Vienna among Ashton, Zarif and the six world powers that struck a deal with Tehran in November.

Under the interim agreement, Iran agreed to freeze higher-level uranium enrichment in exchange for limited relief from Western sanctions over a six-month period while a final permanent agreement is being pursued.

The UN's nuclear watchdog gave its second positive assessment of Iran's compliance with the interim deal last month.

Ashton's predecessor, Javier Solana, traveled to Tehran in 2008.

Ashton and Zarif give a joint press conference following a meeting on March 9, 2014 in Tehran. Credit: AFP

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Dr. Claris Harbon in the neighborhood where she grew up in Ashdod.

A Women's Rights Lawyer Felt She Didn't Belong in Israel. So She Moved to Morocco

Mohammed 'Moha' Alshawamreh.

'It Was Real Shock to Move From a Little Muslim Village, to a Big Open World'

From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’

A scene from Netflix's "RRR."

‘RRR’: If Cocaine Were a Movie, It Would Look Like This

Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid's Journey: From Late-night Host to Israel's Prime Minister

Lake Kinneret. The high water level created lagoons at the northern end of the lake.

Lake Kinneret as You’ve Never Experienced It Before