(MEBG) – Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s pro-reform president who just wrapped up a visit to Germany at present, received a welcome gift from his hosts in Berlin, when the German government announced that it will increase by five times its export credit guarantees to Iran, in an attempt to promote trade between the two countries.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said that he is willing to increase Iran’s credit guarantees to one billion Deutsche Marks, and he expressed his readiness for Germany to participate in large economic projects when the opportunity arises.
The increase in the credit guarantee is significant, but it still is only a fraction of the DM 4-5 billion that some German industry leaders had been calling for.
"The increase is a good start, but will not be enough in the long term," said Klaus Lederer, chairman of the Babcock Borsig engineering group and head of the German business federation in North African and Middle East Initiative.
The three-day state visit to the Germany, which was the first by an Iranian head of state in more than two decades, focused more on economic relations than on human rights. The visit has been criticized by both conservative opponents in Germany and by Iranian exiles in Europe.
Khatami’s trip to Germany was among the several trips he made to France and Italy last year, which are aimed at strengthening relations between Iran and Europe. In spite of opposition among the 116,000 Iranian community in Germany, officials in Berlin have emphasized the need to support the Iranian president’s policy of gradual change and opening. The German government appears firm in its belief that fostering the Iranian economically will fortify Khatami’s personal standing