Merz: criticisms are 'unjustified'
The Swiss president responds to Israeli criticism of his meeting with Iranian leader.GENEVA - Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz described criticisms of his meeting with Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "unjustified", Swiss news agency ATS reported Monday.
"I can understand them, but they are unjustified," he said in an interview with Swiss local station Radio 1, the agency said.
Merz met Ahmadinejad on Sunday night in Geneva ahead of the racism conference that is being boycotted by the United States, Israel, and several other Western countries.
It was Ahmadinejad's first formal meeting with a Western head of state.
Israel on Monday recalled its ambassador to Switzerland in protest at the Swiss leader's meeting the "racist" Iranian president.
Israel "decided to recall the Israeli ambassador in Switzerland Ilan Elgar for consultations to express their discontent over the holding of the Durban II conference in Geneva that includes the participation of a racist Holocaust denier who has publicly declared his intention to wipe Israel off the map," a government statement said.
"Israel's ambassador in Switzerland is recalled for consultations following the start of the Durban II conference and the meeting between the Swiss president with his Iranian counterpart," an Israeli foreign ministry official said.
"This is not a break in relations, but an expression of Israel's discontent for the lax Swiss attitude towards Iran," he said on condition of anonymity.
AFP / Expatica