PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif “No one can set conditions for Iran”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has repeated that Iran will not recognize Israel’s right to exist, despite the linkage of the issue to Tehran’s economic future.

Zarif responded on Saturday to comments by German Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, made a day earlier to the magazine Der Spiegel, that the Islamic Republic can have normal and friendly relations with Germany “only when it accepted Israel’s right to exist”.

The Foreign Minister told reporters, “No one can set conditions for Iran and Iran is an independent country.”

Iran immediately broke relations with Israel after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel as a state.

Germany’s Gabriel plans to visit Iran with a large delegation of business executives to discuss possible deals after January’s implementation of the July 2015 nuclear agreement.

The trip comes with Tehran struggling to confirm renewed links with Europe. Initial optimism has faded, with European companies and banks hesitant amid concerns about continued US sanctions and Iranian regulations. A $25 billion deal with France’s Airbus for 118 passenger planes has been stalled because of the need for US licenses, although a first delivery of 18 aircraft has now been approved fo next year.

Despite Iran’s need for foreign trade and investment for economic recovery, Zarif held the line on Saturday:

Our policies are clear and [officials of] different countries travel to Iran in the knowledge that that the country’s policies are constructive. Our country is the main country fighting against terrorism in the region….

Iran is a country that has stood up to Daesh and terrorism; therefore, having relations with Iran should be an honor for all.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi also rejected Gabriel’s remarks on Saturday:

Ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Germany are based on mutual respect and interests, and no precondition would be acceptable in this regard.

The Islamic Republic considers defending the rights of the people of Palestine to be a fixed plank of its foreign policy and will never and under no circumstances forsake the Palestinian cause.