German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was at the center of controversy during a two-day visit to Tehran (Al-Monitor). Gabriel made remarks both before and during the trip, in which he addressed Iran's support for the “terror regime” of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the country's human rights abuses, and “unspeakable” anti-Israel stance. This wasn’t the first time Gabriel made such comments. He also said Tehran should recognize Israel during his first trip to Iran in 2015.
Before his visit, Der Spiegel quoted Gabriel saying Germany will only have friendly relations if Tehran accepts Israel’s right to exist. This prompted Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht to say, “No country can set preconditions for Iran. We live with our beliefs. Tehran will never recognize Israel.”
The minister was accompanied in Iran by a delegation of 100 business executives including Siemens AG and automaker Daimler seeking agreements after last year’s nuclear deal.
Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, canceled a meeting with the German economy minister (Reuters). No reason was given. Larijani’s brother and head of Iran's judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, criticized Gabriel for his comments. He said, “If I were in the government's position or in the foreign minister's shoes I would never let such a person come to Iran.”
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also canceled his meeting, apparently due to a busy schedule. However, Gabriel had a meeting with Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, who is close to pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani.