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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 18:00 GMT
Iran to host debate on Holocaust
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad's remarks have been condemned at the UN
Iran says it will hold a conference to assess the scale and consequences of the Holocaust, which its president recently described as a "myth".

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also sparked international condemnation by calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map", or moved to Europe or the US.

An Iranian spokesman said the seminar would examine the "scientific evidence" supporting the Holocaust.

Six million Jews were killed in Nazi persecution during World War II.

Mr Ahmadinejad's comments received a sympathetic ear in some parts of the Muslim press, but resulted in two rebukes from the UN Security Council.

'Strange world'

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said debate of the issue should not be off limits.

"It is a strange world. It is possible to discuss everything except the Holocaust," he said.

"The foreign ministry plans to hold a conference on the scientific aspect of the issue to discuss and review its repercussions."

He did not say where or when the conference would be held, nor who would attend.

Increased tension

Iran's attacks on Israel have coincided with increasing tension between Tehran and the West on other issues.

The US and Europe are pushing for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is meant only to produce energy, but which the West suspects has the goal of producing nuclear weapons.

Iran has warned the West against going to the council, saying any sanctions against the world's fourth biggest oil exporter could lead to a rise in the price of oil.

In other words, says the BBC's world affairs correspondent Jonathan Charles, "don't hurt us, or we'll hurt you".

Iran's representative to the oil-producing cartel Opec on Sunday called for it to reduce output - a move likely to put more pressure on prices.

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