Iran leader denounces Nazi crimes
Iran's new president has denounced Nazi crimes "against the Jews" and offered "peace and friendship" to Americans as he sought to recast his country's image.
Hassan Rouhani's (right) charm offensive at the United Nations General Assembly in New York continued yesterday with a CNN interview designed to bury the impression created by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who described the Holocaust as a "myth".
Mr Rouhani could not bring himself explicitly to acknowledge the historical truth of the deaths of six million Jews.
"I am not a historian," he said.
"When it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect on it.
"But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned."
But he coupled his words with an implicit attack on Israel, saying: "This does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say Nazis committed crimes against a group, now therefore they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an even-handed discussion."
Mr Rouhani's new approach has done nothing to mollify Israel. Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said: "We have not seen a change in Iran's actions – and even when it comes to language, we have not heard the sort of unequivocal language that's required."
Mr Rouhani also addressed Americans directly during the interview, saying: "I would like to say to the American people I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans."
Mr Rouhani had been expected to meet President Barack Obama at a lunch for world leaders but backed out. (© Daily Telegraph, London)