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Rohani to CNN: Nazi crimes against Jews 'reprehensible'
After UNGA address, Iranian president tells Christiane Amanpour historians should determine dimensions of Holocaust

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rohani acknowledged the Holocaust and condemned the Nazis' crimes against the Jewish people.

 

Rohani told Christiane Amanpour "I am not a historian, and that 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, was reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned."

 

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Rohani has recently exchanged letters with US President Barack Obama, and there had been suspicion brewing in diplomatic circles that the two leaders would meet face-to-face, informally, at the United Nations in New York.

 

"There were some talks about it," Rohani told Amanpour through a translator. "And preparation for the work was done a bit as well."

  

Rohani speaks with Christiane Amanpour

 

"The United States declared its interest in having such a meeting, and in principle Iran could have under certain circumstances allowed for it to happen," he said. "But I believe we didn't have sufficient time to really coordinate the meeting to the full extent that we needed to."

 

Two senior US administration officials told CNN on Tuesday that the encounter was called off because it was considered "too complicated" for Iran back home.

 

During the interview with CNN, the Iranian president made clear that he has full permission from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to negotiate with the West on Iran's nuclear program.

 

"I think that the president of Iran has the authority whenever the national interest of the country is involved," Rohani told Amanpour. "The supreme leader of Iran has said that should negotiations be necessary for the national interest of the country, he is in fact not opposed to it."

 

"Now, if an opportunity was created today, had arisen today," the Iranian president said, "and the prep work for that had been done, most probably the talks would have haven taken place, primarily focused on the nuclear issue or the developments on the Middle East. Therefore the supreme leader, I can tell you, has given permission for my government to freely negotiate on these issues."

 

In his first English-language TV message to the American people, Rohani said: "I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans."

 

Earlier, Rohani addressed the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. He said the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is a form of "structural violence" in which Palestinians are "deprived of the right of return" and in which "intuitional aggression" is implemented against the Palestinian people.

 

"Palestine is under occupation," he said. "The basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland."

 

Referring to Obama's speech, Rohani said that if the US "refrains from falling for war mongering pressure groups... and recognizes the principles of international law … then peace is in reach."

 

He added he was prepared to engage in "time-bound and results-oriented" nuclear talks and did not seek to increase tensions with the United States.

 

 

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