Iranian PM snubs Annan over nuclear program
UN chief Kofi Annanhas ended a visit to Iran, but seemed to have failed in his mission to convince Tehran to end uranium enrichment and stop incitinghatred by questioning the Holocaust.
In a provocative move on the second of a two-day visit bythe UN secretary general, Tehran repeated an earlier pledge tohost a conference that will examine what it describes as exaggerations about the Holocaust, during which more than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis.
During the past year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has drawn strong condemnations around the globe for calling the Nazis' slaughter of Jews a myth and saying Israel should be wiped off the map or moved to Germany or the United States.
In another apparent snub, the hard-line Ahmadinejad didn't accompanyAnnan to the news conference after the two of them met.
Annan repeated his displeasure over an exhibition in Tehran of cartoons that mocked the Holocaust. Iranian authorities have said itwas opened as a response toWestern newspapers' publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which spurred protests from Muslims around the world.
"I think the tragedy of the Holocaust is an undeniable historical fact and we should really accept that fact and teach people what happened in World War II and ensure it is never repeated," Annan told reporters in Tehran.
Traditional Islamic scripturesforbiddepicting Mohammad out of concern that it could lead to idolatry, and many Muslims were particularly angered by the negative tone of some of the caricatures, such as one that showed Muhammadwearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.
Annan first raised his concerns about the Holocaust exhibit during a meeting Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki, according to the UN chief's spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi. He quoted Annan as saying that "we should avoid anything that incites hatred."
Annan's visit came after Iran ignored the UN Security Council's Thursday deadline for Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, opening the door to possible sanctions over concerns that the Iranians are trying to develop atomic weapons.
It was part of an 11-day tour to the Middle East that included stops inLebanon, Israel, the Gaza Strip and Syria.