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A large step“

25.11.2013 - Interview

Foreign MinisterWesterwelle on the outcome of the Geneva talks. Thomas Wittke spoke with Foreign MinisterGuido Westerwelle following the nuclear talks in Geneva. First published in the Bonn General-Anzeiger on 25 November 2013

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Is Tehran’s willingness to compromise credible?

After nearly a decade of difficult negotiations without any result, we now for the first time have agreed on important initial steps. During these talks, President Rouhani and the new Iranian leadership did what they previously announced, also at the United Nations General Assembly in September: they made substantial concessions and worked seriously towards reaching a solution. We have taken a major step towards our goal of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

Is Israel's blunt rejection of the project exaggerated?

We and our partners in theE3+3 group will now talk to Israel to explain the agreements that have been reached, as well as our position. We will not lose sight of the common objective we share with Israel, namely preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon. Already in the coming months, we will see whether Iran is verifiably adhering to what has been agreed. Also, negotiations with Iran will continue. Saturday night’s agreement will last for six months. We want to fully use this time to work towards a permanent solution. Of course, we will always bear in mind the interests of Israel.

Does this compromise create impetus for fundamentally overhauling relations with Tehran?

Trust can quickly be destroyed, while rebuilding it is a slow process. It is not easy to overcome years of confrontation, and that certainly cannot be done overnight. Trust is built when agreements are adhered to – and when a constructive approach takes the place of provocations, like the ones we heard from President Ahmadinejad. The initial signs are hopeful, and the agreement reached late Saturday night is a very important step. But we still have a long way to go. Iran is a significant regional power in the Middle East. There are many opportunities for the country to adopt new policies that aim to build peace and balance interests, both internally and abroad.

The interview was conducted by Thomas Wittke. Reproduced by kind permission of the General-Anzeiger.

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