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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Must Respect Law, Says Germany

BONN, Germany -- German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel appealed to Iran on Thursday to show respect for international law after a Berlin court concluded that Tehran had ordered political assassinations in Germany.

The minister was speaking a day after he received a letter from Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati denouncing the court's verdict that convicted three Lebanese and an Iranian of the 1992 murder of four Kurdish dissidents on Iran's orders.

Kinkel condemned Iran state involvement in the killings and urged the Islamic republic to "once again" return to a policy of more openness towards Europe to enable future dialogue.

"I appeal to Iran to see reason, to once again observe international law and a policy which will enable us to resume future dialogue -- in its own interests," Kinkel told a parliamentary debate on the court verdict. "As a result of the Berlin court's conclusions I declare on behalf of the German government the involvement of Iranian state authorities in the attack represents an unacceptable and flagrant violation of international law," Kinkel said.

He added that, although Germany and the rest of the European Union had ended their policy of "critical dialogue" aimed at keeping communication channels open with Iran, limited ties would remain.

Parliamentarians from all parties agreed ties should only become closer again on condition that Iran's leadership committed itself to observing international law.

Opposition members from the environmental Greens and Social Democrats attacked Kinkel for having championed the now defunct policy of "critical dialogue" and urged the government to keep ties with Iran to a minimum.

The Berlin verdict not only prompted official protest from Iran's leadership but also unleashed a wave of protests in Tehran where thousands of people took to the streets and fundamentalist students tried to storm the German Embassy.

The court said Iranian leaders, including the state president and the religious leader, had ordered the killings. But it only mentioned Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahiyan by name. Iran has repeatedly denied all involvement.

The verdict was the first time a European court had clearly attributed political responsibility for any of the dozens of assassinations of Iranian opposition figures abroad since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office has said it is studying the court verdict implicating Iran's leaders to decide whether some suspects were immune on political or diplomatic grounds.