Source AP ©

Israel urges Germany to support sanctions agains Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert urged Germany to support tougher sanctions against Iran in Thursday, his office said.

Olmert discussed the Iranian issue and continued peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians during his meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Israel has welcomed a U.S.-led push to impose a third set of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment activities - a process that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. The U.S., Israel and other Western countries believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons, a charge that Tehran denies.

France and Britain have backed the call for stronger sanctions, but the rest of the EU remains divided on how to defuse the standoff.

Olmert "stressed the importance he ascribes to Germany's strong support of the continued expansion of sanctions against Iran," the prime minister's office said in a statement. It was not immediately known how Steinmeier reacted. Germany is among Iran's top European trade partners.

It also said Olmert hopes an upcoming U.S.-hosted Mideast conference "will be able to serve as a milestone and create the necessary support for the continuation and expansion of the existing process between Israel and the Palestinians."

A date for the conference, expected to take place later this year in Annapolis, Maryland, has not been set due to disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians about the agenda of the meeting.

Steinmeier was wrapping up a two-day visit to the region that included talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.