Ahmajinedad \’toned down\’ controversial speech

The United Nations says the Iranian president toned down his controversial anti-Israel speech during a UN conference on racism at Geneva.

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A copy of the speech translated into English issued by the Iranian delegation on Monday read that the West had created the state of Israel after World War II “on the pretext of the Jewish sufferings and the ambiguous and dubious question of the Holocaust.”

But according to a UN statement, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dropped the phrase during his speech in Farsi.

Despite omitting the reference to Holocaust denial, Mr Ahmadinejad’s speech still criticised the state of Israel, prompting 23 European Union delegations to walk out in protest.

Day of Remembrance

Mr Ahmadinejad’s comments were particularly provocative because they fell on Israel’s day of remembrance for Holocaust victims.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, praised the delegations that walked out during Mr Ahmadinejad’s speech.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel boycotted the conference because of fears that it would be used by Iran to promote xenophobia.

He commended another eight countries including Australia and the United States for joining Israel\’s boycott.

“They have restored reason to a world in which a conference against racism can become the platform for the head of a revisionist regime who announces his intention to wipe Israel from the map,” he said.

Declaration issued

Delegates responded to the Iranian president’s comments by adopting a declaration against racism three days earlier than expected.

The declaration includes a paragraph stating that that “the Holocaust must never be forgotten.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said it’s been adopted by all states attending the conference, including Iran.

But it hasn’t been recognized by the nine countries that boycotted the meeting.