Reuters: German officials are weighing up imposing some form of travel restriction on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after his denials that the Holocaust happened, a senior foreign ministry official said on Thursday. Some six millions Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War Two. Publicly denying that the Holocaust happened, as
Ahmadinejad has done twice, is a crime in Germany. By Louis Charbonneau
BERLIN, Dec 15 (Reuters) – German officials are weighing up imposing some form of travel restriction on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after his denials that the Holocaust happened, a senior foreign ministry official said on Thursday. Some six millions Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War Two. Publicly denying that the Holocaust happened, as Ahmadinejad has done twice, is a crime in Germany.
In an interview with German WDR television, Gernot Erler, a state secretary at the foreign ministry, said the ministry was discussing whether Ahmadinejad should be allowed to enter Germany.
“We are considering whether some kind of travel restrictions could possibly be applied here,” Erler said.
The Iranian president told a crowd in the southeastern city of Zahedan on Wednesday that the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis was a legend, reiterating comments which drew international condemnation last week.
In October, Ahmadinejad said the Jewish state should be “wiped off the map.”
Erler said any retaliatory steps needed to be carefully considered to ensure they did not undermine efforts by France, Britain and Germany to persuade Iran to give up what Washington and the European Union fear is an atomic weapons programme.
“It would make no sense … to completely isolate this country, because then, for example, a negotiated solution would no longer be possible,” Erler said.
Iran denies wanting nuclear energy for anything other than the peaceful generation of electricity.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned Ahmadinejad’s remarks and said: “The government in Tehran must understand that the patience of the international community is not endless.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to seek support from other EU leaders at a summit in Brussels to take the issue to the United Nations. Erler described the hardline president’s remarks as “a deliberate provocation aimed not only at the Arab world but also internally in order to gain legitimacy.”
EU leaders may issue a joint condemnation in Brussels, followed by a formal protest delivered by the ambassadors of Germany, France and Britain — the ‘EU3’ — in Tehran.
“A third possibility would be the temporary recall of European ambassadors from Iran. That would be a dramatic step and would signal the threat that a complete severing of diplomatic ties is a possibility,” Erler said.
For the time being, the EU3 have no plans to cancel talks with Iranian nuclear negotiators due later this month.
Erler confirmed that on Dec. 21 senior diplomats from Germany, France and Britain would meet Iranian negotiators to see if talks between the EU trio and Tehran can be revived.
The talks collapsed in August when Iran resumed uranium processing activities at a plant in Isfahan that had been mothballed under a November 2004 deal between the EU3 and Iran known as the Paris Agreement.
Iran has vowed never to give up its right to a full atomic programme, including the most sensitive part of the fuel cycle, uranium enrichment, which can yield fuel for power or bombs.