TEHRAN: Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on his official Facebook page that Tehran condemned the massacre of Jews during World War II by the Nazis.
His statement was in direct contrast to vehement Holocaust denials by former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“We condemn the massacre of Jews by the Nazis, and we condemn the massacre of Palestinians by the Zionists,” Zarif wrote, where he published the text of an interview he gave to the Tasnim news agency.
When asked whether he wished Jews “Happy Rosh Hashanah”, the Jewish New Year, he replied that he had also had an exchange about the holocaust on Twitter regarding the same.
“I replied to a question from a person who appeared to be the daughter of the ex-speaker of the US House of Representatives,” Nancy Pelosi, he wrote on his page.
On his newly activated Twitter account, Zarif wrote in English “Happy Rosh Hashanah,” to which Christine Pelosi replied by thanking him.
“Thanks. The new year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir,” she wrote.
To which Zarif replied: “Iran never denied it (the Holocaust). The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year.”
Zarif’s comment came as a shock to many in the Twitterverse, who clearly remember Iran’s former president’s stance against Israel. Many could not help but wonder if this was a demonstration of Iran’s new outlook and the beginning of a new era.
Tehran does not recognise Israel and Ahmadinejad's eight years in office, which were filled with anti-Israeli diatribes and denial of the Holocaust.
The former president's anti-Israel statements and Iran's controversial nuclear programme both contributed to its increased international isolation.
The controversial Ahmadinejad was succeeded as president by Hassan Rouhani, who won a surprise election victory over five conservatives on June 14.
Rouhani's website on Thursday said he has tasked the foreign ministry with handling sensitive nuclear talks, in a possible signal of a less confrontational approach with world powers.
His announcement seemed to indicate that Zarif would take on the role personally.
On his twitter page, Rouhani tweeted, "as the sun is about to set here in #Tehran, I wish all Jews, especiallty Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah."
“Every year we wish happy New Year to our Christian compatriots,” Zarif told the Tasnim news agency. “We also have a Jewish minority that is represented in parliament by one deputy.”
“We have nothing against Jews and Judaism, but we do not allow Zionists to present Iran as being anti-Semitic and bellicose in their propaganda so they can continue to repress the Palestinian people... and have their crimes forgotten,” he added.