BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's economy minister told a closed meeting of business leaders that Berlin's sudden U-turn on nuclear power was based on electoral politics and was 'not rational', a newspaper reported on Thursday.
Citing minutes taken at an event last week hosted by industry association BDI, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the comments by Rainer Bruederle surprised the 40 or so top managers at the meeting.
"The minister... illustrated that with the upcoming state election, pressure was weighing on politics and decisions would not always be rational," the paper quoted the minutes as saying.
Bruederle defended atomic power at the meeting, which was attended by two power company CEOs, Juergen Grossmann from RWE and Johannes Teyssen of E.ON, saying there was no way to avoid its use, especially for energy-intensive industries.
Merkel's party faces tough elections this weekend in states where anti-nuclear sentiment is strong.
Following the nuclear crisis in Japan, the moratorium Merkel declared on March 14 -- the same day the BDI meeting took place -- led to the closing of seven of the country's 17 nuclear plants for at least three months.
(Writing by Brian Rohan, editing by Tim Pearce)