Reuters: Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that Germany fully supports a new round of tougher sanctions against Iran if Tehran does not address international concerns about its nuclear programme. BERLIN (Reuters) – Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that Germany fully supports a new round of tougher sanctions against Iran if Tehran does not address international concerns about its nuclear programme.
Speaking days before she visits U.S. President George W. Bush at his ranch in Texas to discuss Iran, Middle East peace and other burning issues, Merkel emphasised that Germany preferred a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Tehran.
“We want, along with our partners, a diplomatic solution,” she said at a gala dinner in Berlin, where she received the Leo Baeck prize from Germany’s Jewish community. “But as part of that, Germany is ready to pursue further, sharper sanctions if Iran does not back down,” she added.
Merkel’s trip to the United States comes amid mounting concern in Berlin about the strong rhetoric coming out of Washington on Iran.
She is expected to press Bush, with whom she has developed a good personal relationship, to continue on a diplomatic track with the Islamic Republic and resist military action, which Washington has not ruled out.
Iran has so far refused to heed United Nations demands to halt nuclear work that could have both civilian and military uses.
Six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — are expected to meet later this month to discuss reports from the U.N. atomic watchdog on Iran’s compliance with international demands.
They are expected to proceed with a third round of U.N. sanctions if the U.N. reports indicate Iran has not addressed concerns about its nuclear programme.
(Reporting by Noah Barkin; Editing by Matthew Jones)