The European Union on Sunday condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, saying it encourages anti-Semitism and hatred.
The Swedish EU presidency urged Iranian leaders to "contribute constructively to peace and security in the Middle East," as well as condemning Ahmadinejad's attacks on the state of Israel's right to exist.
Ahmadinejad repeated his denials of the Holocaust during a speech in Teheran Saturday, saying it was a pretext for occupying Arab land. He was speaking at Quds Day - an annual anti-Israel commemoration in Iran. He said the Holocaust was "a false pretext to create Israel." He also called on all Muslims to confront the "Zionist regime [as] a national and religious duty."
On Saturday, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko responded to the speech, saying "such statements, wherever they come from, contradict the truth and are totally unacceptable," according to AFP.
The Iranian leader's comment "does not contribute to creating an international atmosphere that would foster a fruitful dialogue on issues concerning Iran," Nesterenko reportedly said.
"Attempts to rewrite history, especially as the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II is being marked this year, are an offense to the memory of all victims and all those who fought fascism," he added.
Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Friday that Ahmadinejad's comments were "hateful."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed her, telling reporters: "Obviously we condemn what he said."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also criticized Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, in a statement communicated by the UK Embassy in Israel Friday.
"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 said.
"Iran's people have a great history and culture," Miliband said in response to Ahmadinejad's statement. "I cannot believe that the vast majority of them want to rewrite this chapter of history rather than focus on the future. The coincidence of today's comments with the start of Jewish New Year only adds to the insult."
Earlier, Miliband issued a blessing for the Jewish new year, saying "Rosh Hashanah is a time of celebration for Jewish communities in the UK and around the world. A chance to look forward to the coming year and make plans, but also a period of reflection and soul searching."
"At this time of reflection, many Jews will be praying for the peace of Israel. The Jewish New Year is a good time for us all to re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of peace in the Middle East. We must hope that this year, the Shofar's call will bring this peace, that has for so long been the hope and prayer of the Jewish people.
"I wish the Jewish community in Britain, in Israel and around the world a year of peace and prosperity. Shana Tovah v'hatima tovah."