Merkel discusses Middle East and Iran with Putin

6th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 March 2006, BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Middle East and Iran's nuclear programme with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation Saturday.

6 March 2006

BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Middle East and Iran's nuclear programme with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation Saturday.

A statement released by the government in Berlin said Putin briefed the chancellor on the talks in Moscow between Russian officials and the militant Palestinian organization Hamas.

A Hamas delegation led by exiled leader Khaled Mashaal held four hours of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday after which the group retained a tough stance on Israel, saying there could be no peace unless Israel withdrew from occupied Palestinian territories.

Putin had asked leaders of Hamas to visit Russia after it prevailed in the January 25 Palestinian legislative elections, but the move angered Israel and raised concern in the United States, which considers the group a terrorist organization and refuses to pursue any dialogue with it until it renounces violence.

Merkel told Putin there had been no change in Germany's position that Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by progress made in the Mideast peace talks, the government statement said.

It said the two leaders agreed that the international community should remain united in their approach to Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

Talks between Iran and an EU delegation on Friday failed to reach an agreement that would prevent the nuclear dispute reaching the United Nations Security Council.

The United States suspects Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons and wants it to suspend uranium enrichment, something which Tehran refuses to do, insisting its programme is peaceful.

DPA

Subject: German news

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