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Merkel to meet Israeli president Rivlin, as nations mark 50 years of ties

Marking 50 years of diplomatic relations, the Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel for talks in Berlin on Tuesday. The two nations have signed a deal for defense boats.

Rivlin (above left) will hold meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday. On Monday, Rivlin met with President Joachim Gauck, receiving full military honors in Berlin.

His visit marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between post-war Germany and Israel, and comes three days after the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany and the end of the Second World War.

Rivlin and Gauck warned against growing anti-Semitism in Europe, in comments to German and Israeli media.

"In the last year in Germany we experienced demonstrations dressed up partly as criticism of Israel, and partly as open anti-Semitism. In addition to a 'traditional' anti-semitism, we see ourselves confronted with a reinforced anti-semitism from immigrant families," Gauck told German newspaper Bild and Israeli paper Yedith Ahronoth.

Rivlin warned there was a "worldwide increase in anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish slogans. Much of it will be spurred on by extremists who fight democracy and freedom."

Gauck and Rivlin disagreed on some issues. The German president reiterated Berlin's support for a two-state solution and Palestinian statehood, which Rivlin and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu oppose.

Gauck also said he had explained Germany's position on why it supports negotiating a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

To trade, and Israel is to buy four patrol boats from Germany, in a deal signed on Monday.

Deutschland Michael Müller empfängt Reuven Rivlin

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller (r.) showed Rivlin around the capital

The agreement will see Israel buy the boats from German multinational ThyssenKrupp to protect its offshore gas installations in the Mediterranean.

The deal is worth 430 million euros ($480 million). Berlin will finance about 115 euros by means of a grant. Germany is Israel's biggest trading partner in Europe.

ThyssenKrupp also committed to carry out reciprocal purchasing in Israel, to the amount of 700 million shekels (162 million euros, $181 million).

jr/bw (AP, AFP)

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