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Westerwelle calls on Iran to return to nuclear talks

Germany’s foreign minister has called on Iran to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear program. Guido Westerwelle added that there was still time for a negotiated resolution to the dispute.

Speaking during a short visit to Jerusalem in which he held talks with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday, Westerwelle also warned Iran against "simply stalling for time."

Barak expressed Israel's concern about Tehran's intentions but also praised Germany for its efforts to resolve the dispute.

"Germany is an important player in the international efforts" to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, Barak said.

Western nations fear Iran may be using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons and the European Union has stated its intention to impose further economic sanctions on Tehran, should it fail to provide proof to the contrary by next month.

Westerwelle reiterated Germany's position that it would not allow Iran to gain the weapons, while at the same time warning against a "nuclear arms race in an already unstable region."

Israel, which has never confirmed nor denied its own nuclear capability, has not ruled out the use of military force to prevent Iran from obtaining atomic weaponry.

The two ministers were also expected to discuss the possible delivery of two German submarines to Egypt. The mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was determined to block the sale of the two subs until further notice. The paper quoted an unnamed Israeli diplomat who said newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi first need to "prove (his) reliability."

Westerwelle declined to comment specifically on the issue as he went into a meeting with Netanyahu.

He did note, however, that "the security interests of Israel are carefully considered in all German government decisions."

pfd/mkg (dpa, DAPD)