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World Jewish Congress in new attack on Bern

The president of the World Jewish Congress says he wants Switzerland to cancel a natural gas deal signed in March between a Swiss company and Iran.

Repeating earlier criticism, Ronald Lauder said the contract threatened both Israel and the United States. He was speaking in Bern on Wednesday ahead of talks with Swiss President Pascal Couchepin.

“Maybe that money that Switzerland is paying to Iran will some day be used to either buy weapons to kill Israelis or buy weapons to kill Americans or buy missiles to be able to deliver nuclear weapons,” he said.

However, he explained that he was in the Swiss capital “more as an ambassador… than somebody coming with a stick”.

At the end of last month Lauder criticised the deal as “shabby” and described the policy of the Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, as “flawed”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on an official visit to Switzerland on Tuesday said she was “sceptical” of the deal.

Calmy-Rey has defended the Swiss move, pointing out that the natural gas accord did not breach United Nations sanctions.

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