UK & World News
Iran Minister's 'Happy New Year' Tweet To Jews
Iran's foreign minister has confirmed he sent a message on Twitter saying "Happy Rosh Hashanah" to the Jewish community.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, a moderate who studied at Denver University and has spent some time in the West, told Tasnimnews.com that he had sent the Happy New Year message because Iran has its own small Jewish community.
He also wrote on Twitter that Iran did not deny the Holocaust.
The second tweet followed a comment from an account attributed to Christine Pelosi, daughter of US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who replied to Mr Zarif's initial tweet saying: "The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir."
He replied: "Iran never denied it. The man who perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year."
In an interview with the website, Mr Zarif said Iran would not let Israel use the Holocaust "to cover up their crimes".
"We never were against Jews. We oppose Zionists who are a minority," the foreign minister was quoted as saying.
"We have condemned killing of Jews by Nazis as we condemn (the) killing and crackdown on Palestinians by Zionists."
The message comes, as President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, slowly takes control of the country while trying to strike a more reconciliatory tone after predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's turbulent years in office.
Mr Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel remarks also prompted repeated international outcries, especially in the West.
There is also the matter of Iran's nuclear programme which the West suspects has a military angle. Iran denies this, saying its nuclear activities have peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.
President Rouhani has now put the Mr Zarif's department in charge of nuclear talks with world powers; it was previously under the control of Iran's top security body.
The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has said she hopes to set a date for nuclear talks with Iran when she meets Mr Zarif at the UN later this month.