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Photo: AFP
'Deal with Zionism.' Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Photo: AFP
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Angela Merkel
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Iran leader asks Germany for help on Zionism
German government official says a letter written by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to German Chancellor Merkel asks her to help solve Palestinian problem, deal with Zionism. Official says letter ‘rather weird’
A German government official said on Thursday that letter written by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to German Chancellor Angela Merkel asks her to help solve the Palestinian problem and deal with Zionism.

 

“There’s nothing about the nuclear issue (in the letter),” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the extreme sensitivity of the issue for the German government.

 

“It’s all related to Germany and how we have to find a solution to the Palestinian problems and Zionism and so on. It’s rather weird,” The official, who has seen the letter, said.

 

Iranian students news agency said on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad had written to Merkel, but until Thursday officials had not spoken about the contents.

 

Zionism is a political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, now the state of Israel. The fate of Palestinian Arab refugees is one of the world’s largest and most long-lasting refugee problems.

 

Berlin’s relations with Ahmadinejad have been complicated by his denial of the Holocaust, in which Germany’s Nazi regime killed six million Jews, and his call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

 

Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany punishable with up to five years in prison.

 

“It’s extremely touchy (for the German government),” said the official, adding that the government did not yet know if or how it would respond. “There are a lot of propaganda phrases about Israel and the Jews inside.”

 

'He is not criticizing Germany'

 

In May Ahmadinejad wrote US President George W. Bush an 18-page letter discussing religious values, history and international relations.

 

In it, he took swipes at Israel and at the United States.

 

He sharply criticized Bush on many fronts, implying that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, abuses of detainees in US prisons in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib—and his staunch support for Israel—were somehow inconsistent with Bush’s Christian beliefs.

 

But the letter to Merkel was different and was not confrontational in tone, the official said.

 

“It’s not negative like Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush. He is not criticizing Germany,” he said. “It’s basically about how we have to work together and solve the problems of the world together.”

 

In February, Merkel compared Ahmadinejad’s statements and stance to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power when he and his Nazi party began threatening to exterminate European Jewry.

 

“Remember that in 1933 many people said it was just rhetoric,” Merkel said.

 

The German official said it was interesting that the letter did not discuss Iran’s nuclear standoff with the United States, European Union and other countries.

 

Iran is facing possible action at the UN Security Council over suspicions that it is developing nuclear arms. Tehran denies the charge, saying it is working on nuclear fuel only to run power stations.

 

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