Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Iran's president says Holocaust a fabricated legend

AGENCIES , TEHRAN AND WASHINGTON

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that the Holocaust was a myth, sparking fresh wave of international condemnation.

"They have fabricated a legend under the name `Massacre of the Jews,' and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves," he told a crowd in the southeastern city of Zahedan yesterday in a speech broadcast live on state television.

European countries and the US called yesterday's remarks unacceptable and said they could undermine plans for talks with Tehran on its controversial nuclear program.

Israel said the comments showed Iran's "rogue regime" was acting outside acceptable international norms.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Holocaust remarks could weigh on EU efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

"The recent remarks by the Iranian president ... are certainly shocking and unacceptable," he told reporters. "I cannot deny that they may weigh on our bilateral relations and naturally also on the chances for the negotiations on [Iran's] so-called nuclear dossier."

The White House said it was "outrageous" that Ahmadinejad had once again asserted that the Holocaust was a myth.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the comments underscored the importance of the international community working together to "keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

"All responsible leaders in the international community recognize how outrageous such comments are," he told reporters.

Iran's hardline press largely rallied round the president's first Holocaust remarks but the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's leading reformist party, printed a critical statement in the liberal Sharq daily yesterday.

"Provocation ... and starting this sort of talk, which benefits neither Iranians nor oppressed Palestinians, will only increase consensus on supporting the [Israeli] regime and will unify the approach against Iran," it said.

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