Germany wants a "substantial new start" in its relations with Iran, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Monday after holding talks with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and announcing a sharp increase in the level of German trade guarantees for Iran, reported AFP.
Speaking at a joint news conference on the first day of a three-day official visit to Germany by the Iranian leader, Schroeder said they wanted to re-establish traditional ties between the two countries.
He announced that the German government was increasing its export credit guarantees for Iran to a billion marks (490 million dollars) from their present level of 200 million marks, reported Reuters.
The chancellor also said that a bilateral economic commission, which has not met since 1991 would shortly be revived.
A little earlier the German head of state, Johannes Rau, also said Germany wanted a "new start" in relations with Iran, said AFP.
Khatami expressed thanks for the cordiality of his reception, and said there were "many possibilities" for cooperation between the two countries.
Both he and Schroeder mentioned "differences of opinion" in some areas between Germany and Iran, said Reuters.
Khatami said however that they should build on what they had in common and try to overcome their differences of opinion through dialogue.
Schroeder said they had "discussed the reconciliation of Iran and its cultural and religious traditions with the demands of a modern state, that this is the process they are in. That such a process is not realized overnight is obvious," he added.
The chancellor said they had a "fair exchange" of views regarding the situation in Iran and also regarding Iran's demands vis-à-vis Germany.
He did not elaborate and made no public mention of the human rights question.
But according to a source close to Schroeder, the chancellor did raise specific issues "which are important for us," said AFP.
In a "frank atmosphere", he mentioned the jail sentences on 10 Jews accused of spying for Israel, two journalists and an interpreter detained after attending a seminar in Germany in April of the Heinrich Boll Foundation, said AFP - (Several Sources)
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