German foreign minister says Iran a stabilising force

For full coverage of Middle East business events,

see MEED

Germany wants to work with Iran to help calm regional conflicts and prevent tension escalating with regional rival Saudi Arabia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told foreign journalists in Berlin on Tuesday.

Iran was the key to stabilizing the Middle East, referring to conflicts in Syria and Yemen, he said.

“We need Iran to calm the conflicts and re-establish stability in this crisis-hit region. And I hope Iran is ready for this,” Steinmeier told foreign journalists.

Steinmeier said calming the war in Syria was central to solving Europe’s refugee crisis, which has prompted deep divisions within the EU on how to share the burden of accommodating the influx.

Steinmeier said these tensions would not disappear soon but it was possible to build trust between the two regional rivals.

“Neighborly tensions, like those between Saudi Arabia and Iran, will not turn into friendship overnight,” he said.

“In a first step, a lot would be achieved if both sides brought the current situation under control, not let it escalate, and talked to each other,” he said.

“I am very confident that this new beginning of German-Iranian relations will be filled with substance,” Steinmeier said.