Iranian presidential hopeful slams Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial

The front runner in the Iranian presidential elections has slammed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for holocaust denial as well as antagonising the West

by The Commentator on 25 April 2013 13:04

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust has harmed Iran's foreign relations and done nothing to benefit the Palestinians, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has said.

Ghalibaf is one of the front runners in the campaign to succeed Ahmadinejad as Iranian president in June and said in an interview with the ‘Tasnim’ news agency that Ahmadinejad's statements questioning the extermination of six million Jews by Nazi Germany during World War II had become an "excuse for our biggest enemies, which are the Zionists, and affected the goals of the Palestinians."

He added that "defending the goals of the Palestinians is part of the principles of our foreign policy. Denying the Holocaust is not part of our foreign policy."

According to Ghalibaf, the Islamic Republic was only opposed to Zionism, not Judaism. "We have been the major supporters of Palestine for 30 years, but with the intelligence of Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, no one could accuse us of being anti-Semitic," he is quoted by the ‘Jerusalem Post’. "Suddenly without consideration for the results and implications, the issue of the Holocaust was raised. How did his benefit the revolution or the Palestinians?” he wondered.

Ghalibaf maintained that he would do a better job than Ahmadinejad in handling the diplomacy surrounding the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. “Steps were taken and words were said that not only did not help us push our programs forward, but it also gave our opponents the opportunity to gather others against us. Controversial but useless remarks and slogans and presentations struck a blow against us and weakened our rightful position,” he said, adding that only an "intelligent and rational diplomacy" could help handle the sanctions imposed on Iran by western countries.

"When it’s necessary at points, we will certainly negotiate with America. Negotiating with America has never been a red line for us,"Ghalibaf declared.

Iran will hold presidential elections on 14 June 2013. Ahmadinejad is constitutionally barred from running for a third term. So far, more than 20 candidates have declared their intention to run in contest. No reformers are expected to be permitted to run by the conservative Islamic clerics who vet candidates, limiting prospects for a shift in attitude toward Israel and the West.

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