ahmadinejad 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's Foreign Ministry will hold a two-day conference next week to have what an Iranian official on Tuesday described as a scientific discussion of the evidence for the Holocaust.
Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi said that the two-day conference, scheduled for Dec. 10-11, will be attended by 67 foreign researchers from 30 countries, the Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The gathering, sponsored by the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies, was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who described the Holocaust as a "myth."
"The president simply asked whether an event called the Holocaust has actually taken place... No rational response was ever given to Ahmadinejad's questions," Mohammadi gave as the reason for holding the conference.
Mohammadi said the conference seeks to "provide an opportunity for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom."
Iran has repeatedly announced plans for the gathering, including during United Nations chief Kofi Annan's visit in September to Iran when he said that an exhibition of cartoons denying the Holocaust, on display then, promotes hatred.
The planned conference is yet another step in hard-line President Ahmadinejad's public campaign against Israel. Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
Mohammadi rejected any suggestion that the conference would support anti-Semitism, saying that was a "Western phenomenon." The proof, he said, was Iran's community of 25,000 Jews.
The deputy minister also said that a conference about Holocaust deniers would be held simultaneously in Germany, but he did not give further details and any plans for such an event could not be immediately confirmed.