Israel summons Swiss ambassador over energy deal with Iran

20th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Israel summoned Swiss Ambassador Walter Haffner to its Foreign Ministry offices in Jerusalem Wednesday, protesting an energy deal Switzerland signed with Iran.

19 March 2008

Jerusalem (dpa) - Israel summoned Swiss Ambassador Walter Haffner to its Foreign Ministry offices in Jerusalem Wednesday, protesting an energy deal Switzerland signed with Iran.

A senior Israeli official told Haffner that Israel "regrets" Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey's trip to Tehran this week and views it as an "unfriendly act" toward Israel.

Israel believes that this is "not the appropriate time" to advance economic deals with Iran, Rafi Barak, the ministry's deputy head for Western Europe, told the Swiss ambassador, according to a government statement.

The deal comes in the wake of United Nations Security Council resolution 1803, which stepped up sanctions against Iran, and as the international community is working for Iran to shelve its nuclear program, Barak noted.

"Iran is continuing with its nuclear program, aids extremist organizations, supports terrorism, tramples human rights and denies an independent UN member state's (Israel's) right to exist, while displaying anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel," the statement said.

Switzerland is aware of the danger posed by Iran and Israel expects it to join the international effort on this issue, it added.

The United States too criticized the deal earlier Wednesday, with State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey saying "we don't think that now is the time for people to be investing in Iran, not only in its petroleum or natural gas area, but in any sector of its economy."

The Iranian and Swiss foreign ministers signed the gas agreement on Monday in Tehran. Under the deal, Iran will provide the Swiss firm Elektrizitaets-Gesellschaft Laufenburg 5.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year starting in 2011. The value of the deal was not disclosed. The Israeli Ha'aretz daily reported it is worth an estimated 20 billion euros.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

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