World powers condemn Ahmadinejad for calling Holocaust 'a lie'
German FM brands Ahmadinejad 'a disgrace' for denying Holocaust; U.S. envoy calls remarks hateful.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued on Saturday to draw international condemnation for calling the Holocaust "a lie" on the previous day, his latest outburst of Holocaust denial.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Russia all issued statements denouncing the remarks in the harshest terms.
On Sunday the European Union added its condemnation, saying it encourages anti-Semitism and hatred.
The Swedish EU presidency on Sunday urged Iranian leaders to contribute constructively to peace and security in the Middle East. It also condemned Ahmadinejad's attacks on the state of Israel's right to exist.
The Russian foreign ministry said Ahmadinejad's comments were "totally unacceptable."
"Such statements, wherever they come from, contradict the truth and are totally unacceptable," AFP quoted ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko as saying in a statement.
"Attempts to rewrite history, especially as the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II is being marked this year, are an offence to the memory of all victims and all those who fought fascism."
Nesterenko was further quoted as saying that Ahmadinejad's comment "does not contribute to creating an international atmosphere that would foster a fruitful dialogue on issues concerning Iran."
Iran and six powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - are to meet again on October 1 on Iran's nuclear program amid fears that Tehran is planning to build an atomic bomb.
French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero called the remarks "unacceptable and shocking. We resolutely condemn them," AFP reported.
German FM calls Ahmadinejad 'a disgrace' for denying Holocaust
In a statement unprecedented in its tone, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Ahmadinejad a "disgrace" to his country.
"Today's statements by the Iranian President are unacceptable. With his intolerable tirades he is a disgrace to his country," Steinmeier said in a statement. "This sheer anti-Semitism demands our collective condemnation. We will continue to confront it decisively in the future."
Ahmadinejad said at a Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally in Tehran earlier Friday that, "The pretext [Holocaust] for the creation of the Zionist regime [Israel] is false ... It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim."
Denying the Holocaust - carried out by Nazi Germany in World War Two - is a crime in Germany, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called Ahmadinejad's comments "hateful;" White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters: "Obviously we condemn what he said."
Gibbs added that Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, "only serves to isolate Iran further from the world."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, meanwhile, said: "President Ahmadinejad's repeated denials of the Holocaust are abhorrent as well as ignorant. It is very important that the world community stands up against this tide of abuse. This outburst is not worthy of the leader of Iran."
Miliband went on to praise the great history and culture of the Iranian people.
"I cannot believe that the vast majority of them want to rewrite this chapter of history rather than focus on the future," he added. "The coincidence of today's comments with the start of Jewish New Year only adds to the insult."