DPA: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis had provided ‘a signal of hope’ that Israeli-Palestinian coexistence could become a reality. The chancellor also issued a warning to Iran over its nuclear programme in a wide-ranging speech to the German parliament in Berlin.
Berlin (dpa) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis had provided ‘a signal of hope’ that Israeli-Palestinian coexistence could become a reality.
The chancellor also issued a warning to Iran over its nuclear programme in a wide-ranging speech to the German parliament in Berlin.
Past experience prevented ‘naive optimism’ on the Middle East, Merkel said, but the conference called by US President George W Bush had created the chance of a new engagement process ‘which could give life to the dream of a two-state solution.’
‘There now appears to be new ground for hope, the hope that the dream of peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians could become a reality after all,’ Merkel said.
She explicitly acknowledged ‘Germany’s particular historical responsibility for the security and existence of Israel,’ and sharply criticized Tehran for its threats against Israel.
‘Iran’s leadership is calling into question Israel’s existence in an intolerable way, and in particular its nuclear programme is cause for great concern,’ the German chancellor said.
She said Germany backed a negotiated solution but that if Iran did not cooperate with the international community on its nuclear programme, ‘further and more stringent sanctions are inevitable.’
And she noted there were good offers on the table for Iran if it did cooperate.
‘Unity and decisiveness are required from the international community for success,’ she said, reaffirming German backing for a strong global line on the issue.
Earlier, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Annapolis conference.
The expectations of the conference had been completely fulfilled, Steinmeier said in Washington late Tuesday before returning to Germany.
The German foreign minister, who had warned before the conference that the follow-up process would be decisive, added that he was ‘very satisfied.’
Both sides had pledged ‘to find new ways’ to resolve their problems, he said.
Steinmeier predicted there would be a follow-up to the conference as early as the spring of next year in Moscow.
Arab states participating in the conference had made ‘very positive comments’ on the speeches by US President George W Bush, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he said.
Germany is closely involved in the European Union’s aid programme in the Palestinian Territories.