Thursday, 13 December 2018 | News today: 25

Merkel: Iran must not obtain nuclear arms


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Thursday to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons but disagreed on how as they met to showcase cooperation between their countries, AFP reports.

The one-day visit to Israel by Merkel and members of her cabinet was part of German-Israeli government consultations held regularly, but came after Netanyahu’s harsh criticism of European countries over their efforts to keep alive the Iran nuclear deal.

Germany and other European countries have also repeatedly hit out at Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank and warned over threats to remaining prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.

The two leaders brushed aside their list of differences and talked up ties between their countries, while Merkel stressed Germany’s “everlasting responsibility” to oppose anti-Semitism.

Merkel also sought to smooth over their disagreement on the nuclear deal that Netanyahu brands a “historic mistake”.

“We are very firmly of one opinion with Israel …. that everything must be done to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms,” Merkel said during a news conference with Netanyahu.

Netanyahu spoke of his speech at the United Nations last week when he accused Iran of harbouring a secret nuclear warehouse. Iran rejected his claims as a “show”.

“They’re still trying to hide,” Netanyahu said.

“I exposed some of that in the UN. They’re trying to get there through the backdoor.”

Merkel noted Iran’s presence in neighbouring Syria and said it was exacerbating the threat from Israel’s foe.

She said she had spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about reducing Iran’s presence in Syria as much as possible.

Merkel began the day with a visit to Israel’s Holocaust memorial in the hills above Jerusalem.

After laying a wreath in the Yad Vashem memorial’s solemn Hall of Remembrance, where an eternal flame burns, she spoke of Germany’s responsibility as the Holocaust’s perpetrator.

“From this comes the everlasting responsibility of Germany to remember this crime and to oppose anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hatred and violence,” she said, reading the message she wrote in the memorial’s guest book.