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Schröder slammed for 'private' visit to Iran

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Schröder slammed for 'private' visit to Iran
Schröder and his friend Samii in Iran Photo:DPA
11:00 CET+01:00
Former chancellor Gerhard Schröder is in Iran this weekend, on what has been billed as a private visit, which will include a meeting with president Mahmud Ahmadinejad and delivering a speech to the country's national chamber of trade and industry.

The German Central Council of Jews has heavily criticised Schröder, who now works for Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom, for his apparent date with Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust.

Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the council said, “Mr Schröder is seriously damaging the image of the federal government and the republic of Germany.”

He said Ahmadinejad's image would gain from the meeting, and would use it for his election campaign. “He would be well-advised to avoid the meeting in the name of human rights,” said Kramer.

But Schröder's speech to the chamber of trade and industry, the text of which was released to his local newspaper, the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung tackles Holocaust denial, and says that any regional power which wishes to be taken seriously, has to acknowledge realities, obey international rules and make concessions.

“The Holocaust is a historical fact. It makes no sense to deny this unique crime, for which Hitler's Germany was responsible,” the speech text reads.

He calls for direct talks between Iran and the USA at a high political level.

He is expected to say that he does not contend Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but that the number of states with nuclear weapons must not be allowed to increase.

Schröder was invited to Iran for the opening of a hospital named after Majid Samii, an Iranian friend of his who lives in Hanover.

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