|Holocaust must not be a pretext to suppress Palestinians, Zarif says||
The Iranian foreign minister on Sunday condemned the Holocaust as a “heinous crime” and “genocide,” but said that the incident should not be used by Israel, which he characterized as the aggressor in the Middle East, as a pretext to suppress Palestinians.
In an exclusive interview on ABC News, Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “We condemn the killing of innocent people, whether it happened in Nazi Germany or whether it’s happening in Palestine,” Zarif said. “[The] Holocaust was a heinous crime, it was a genocide, it must never be allowed to be repeated, but that crime cannot be and should not be a justification to trample the rights of the Palestinian people for 60 years.”
Zarif told George Stephanopoulos on ‘This Week’ following a week of historic moments in U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations, as new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani visited New York for the UN General Assembly.
On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he had spoken on the phone with Rouhani, the first communication of its kind in more than three decades – an exchange first confirmed by the newly-elected Iranian president on Twitter. During an exclusive interview with Stephanopoulos two weeks ago, President Obama said he had exchanged letters with the Iranian president.
Zarif, who is serving as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, met with his American counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry in New York Thursday. Both sides agreed the meeting was constructive, with plans for further talks next month in Geneva.
Zarif said resolution of the nuclear issue “will be a first step, a necessary first step, towards removing the tensions and doubts and misgivings that the two sides have had about each other for the last 30-some years.”
“There has been 34 years of the building up of this mutual distrust,” Zarif told Stephanopoulos. “We need to move in that direction of removing some of that mistrust, true mutual steps that each side needs to take in order to convince the other side that its intentions are positive and for a better future for all of us.”
Zarif told Stephanopoulos that Iran is “prepared to start negotiating” on its nuclear program, while maintaining that the country is not seeking nuclear weapons.
“We know that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon,” Zarif said. “Having an Iran that does not have nuclear weapons is not just your goal. It’s first and foremost our goal.”
While saying “our right to enrich is non-negotiable” of Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium for nuclear power purposes, Zarif said the country will not seek weapons-grade uranium that could be used to build a nuclear weapon.
“We do not need military grade uranium. That is a certainty and we will not move in that direction,” Zarif said. Zarif also hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dismissal of Iran’s diplomatic efforts at the UN General assembly as “a smile attack.”
“A smile attack is much better than a lie attack,” Zarif said. “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues have been saying since 1991… that Iran is six months away from a nuclear weapon. And we are how many years, 22 years after that? And they are still saying we are six months away from nuclear weapons.”
“We are not seeking nuclear weapons, so we’re not six months, six years, sixty years away from nuclear weapons,” Zarif added.
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|Last Updated on 29 September 2013 18:13|