German minister stresses potential for closer economic ties with Iran
Economy Minister Werner Mueller stressed the German desire and potential for strengthened economic relations with Iran Monday, April 9, at the first meeting for 10 years of a joint German-Iranian economic commission.
He said the convening of the commission in Berlin after a 10-year break, the fruit of talks between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami during Khatami's landmark visit to Germany last July, was a "great political success for both sides".
"It also shows that a new phase has opened up between our two countries in the domain of economic cooperation," Mueller said. He said that for Germany, Iran played an important role in the Middle East where it bore a high degree of responsibility for regional stability. "The interest by German business and industry in closer cooperation and good partnership with Iran is very marked," Mueller added.
Germany has long had the role of leading supplier country to Iran and that of leading importer of Iranian produce excluding oil, but the level of trade has been in decline in recent years, falling to a low of 3.1 billion marks (€1.59 billion,$1.43 billion) in 1999, the minister said. He said the aim must be to return to and overtake the 1992 level, when the total bilateral trade volume was nine billion marks.
The two governments must create favorable political and economic conditions for there to be the durable intensification of trade and investment which both sides wanted, Mueller said.
The German minister stressed that investment was far below its potential, and called for the conclusion of a new bilateral treaty to encourage and protect investment as an "indispensable political signal" and the condition for investment guarantees by the German government.
Representing the Iranian government at the meeting, also attended by private business representatives, was Mueller's counterpart Hossein Nazami, who earlier Monday also met with German Finance Minister Hans Eichel.
Relations between Iran and Germany have zigzagged in recent years. Although they showed an upturn with Khatami's visit last year, Chancellor Schroeder has indicated that he is waiting for the right political conditions in Tehran before making a return visit. — (AFP, Berlin)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)