Merkel spokesperson backs German FM in spat over Israel visit

2017-04-26 20:34
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Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesperson has backed the country's foreign minister in a spat over his meeting with a rights group in Israel, saying it must be possible to meet organisations critical of an organisation in a democracy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly cancelled planned talks on Tuesday with visiting Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over his meeting with Breaking the Silence, a group critical of Israeli military actions in the West Bank.

Netanyahu said he won't see visiting diplomats who meet groups "that slander (Israeli) soldiers and seek to put our soldiers on trial as war criminals."

Merkel spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday the chancellor considers it "regrettable" the meeting didn't happen. He added: "In a democracy it should be possible for foreign visitors to speak without problems to critical representatives of civil society."

Read more on:    angela merkel  |  sigmar gabriel  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  germany

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