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Israel to EU: Don't Send Delegation to Tehran

Israel pressuring European countries to cancel an official visit by representatives of the European parliament to Iran.

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Elad Benari,

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
AFP/Atta Kenare

Israel is pressuring European countries to cancel an official visit by representatives of the European parliament to Iran, saying the visit means the EU is sending mixed signals to Tehran, Kol Yisrael radio reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, 15 members of the European parliament, representing seven countries, are planning to visit Tehran this month to discuss with Iranian leaders issues defined as "humanitarian."

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem told Kol Yisrael that the visit means that the EU is sending a contradictory message to Tehran: On the one hand the EU just imposed new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, and on the other hand it is attempting to hold a political dialogue with the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, VP of the European Parliament, was quoted in the report as having agreed with Israel and saying that no representatives should be sent to Iran.

Vidal-Quadras said that after the expanded sanctions on Iran have been approved, sending an EU delegation to Iran “will not help advance things, even if the intention is good.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised the EU for the latest round of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic.  

"These are serious sanctions against Iran," he said. "When the centrifuges stop spinning and the Iranian nuclear program is halted, we shall know that they [the sanctions] have achieved their aim…”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent a letter to EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, complimenting the EU for declaring the new sanctions.

“This is an important and brave step,” he said, adding that the move was particularly impressive in light of the current financial difficulties in Europe.

The new measures ban dealing with Iran’s banks above a pre-set “relatively low” threshold, except for some areas of medical and humanitarian aid. The new sanctions also affect trade and gas imports.