Thursday, July 20, 2006

Merkel Rebuffs Ahmadinejad Letter

Speigel Online:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has dismissed a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The missive contains no references to Tehran's nuclear program or the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. But there are "unacceptable" remarks about Israel's and the Holocaust.

Iran's leader had sent a 10-page letter to the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.

It contains "many claims that are not acceptable to us, in particular about Israel, the state of Israel's right to exist and the Holocaust," government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said on Friday in Berlin. In the past, Ahmadinejad has made comments in which he labelled the Nazi Holocaust a myth and called for the destruction of the state of Israel. "Our position on these questions is known," Wilhelm said, noting that Merkel has repeatedly identified Israel's right to exist as a cornerstone of German policy and that "it is in no way acceptable to us to question it." READ MORE

Ahamdinejad's letter says nothing about the ongoing international dispute over Iran's nuclear program. Nor does it state the Iranian president's position on the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Wilhelm said.

The letter does, however, expressed Ahmadinejad's strong interest in "cooperation" with Germany, according to Wilhelm, who refered to the diplomatic offer that the five members of the UN Security Council and Germany have made to help resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program. The diplomatic offer consists in a package of incentives drawn up to persuade Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment program. Wilhelm said the cooperation desired by Ahmadinejad would be possible only if Tehran meets the conditions outlined in the diplomatic offer -- most importantly, the imposition of a long-term moratorium on uranium enrichment.

Wilhelm explained that Ahmadinejad's letter was translated, analyzed and "carefully evaluated." The full text of the letter will not be published. Asked whether Merkel intends to reply to the letter, Wilhelm said: "The German government does not have the intention of entering into correspondence with the Iranian president."

President Ahmadinejad's letter to Chancellor Merkel recalls an earlier, 18-page letter that Ahmadinejad addressed to US President George W. Bush in May.
Although the Germans will not publish the full text of the letter, I predict that the Iranians will release a copy themselves.