Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Holocaust may have been invented by the victorious Allied powers in World War II to embarrass Germany.
Ahmadinejad's letter was rejected immediately by Merkel when it arrived in July
The remarks by the outspoken Iranian president, who has repeatedly questioned the veracity of the Holocaust, came in a letter sent to Merkel in July whose contents have not been disclosed until now, according to the news agency Mehr as reported by AFP.
"Is it not a reasonable possibility that some countries that had won the war made up this excuse to constantly embarrass the defeated people ... to bar their progress," Ahmadinejad said in the letter.
"The question is if these countries, especially Britain, felt responsible for the Holocaust survivors, why they did not settle them in their own countries?" it said.
It is not the first time Ahmadinejad has voiced doubt about the mass slaughter of six million Jews under Nazi Germany, previously describing the Holocaust as a "myth" used to justify the creation of Israel.
"By promoting the necessity of settlement of Holocaust survivors in the occupied Palestine, they have created a constant threat in the Middle East," he said, referring to Israel.
Chancellor rejected "totally unacceptable" letter
Merkel was not amused by the letter from Iran
Merkel on July 21 indicated that she would not formally respond to the letter, saying it contained "totally unacceptable" criticism of Israel and "constantly put in question" the Jewish state's right to exist.
Ahmadinejad blamed what he described as propaganda after World War II for making "some people feel historically guilty and indefinitely pay for the crimes of their fathers."
The letter came as it emerged Iran is to hold an international conference on the Holocaust on December 11-12 that would allow historians to present "hidden aspects" of the Nazi atrocities.
Media reports said the conference would touch on issues including the "reasons for anti-Semitism in Europe", "the Holocaust and Zionism", "the Holocaust in historical documents" and "Holocaust: rules and media."
Iranian president praised Germany
Ahmadinejad's Holocaust conference is set for December
Ahmadinejad in his letter also praised the German people as a nation with potential in science, art, philosophy and politics, but "who are not allowed to play their constructive role in the world."
"Undoubtedly, we, our two governments and nations, can make big steps to resolve the existing global problems... together we can convince some powers that respecting nations' rights is in best interest of everybody," Ahmadinejad said.
The publication of the letter coincided with a visit to Berlin by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, where she urged the international community to stop the "threat" posed by Iran's nuclear program.
"There is an additional threat, not just for the state of Israel but for the entire international community," Livni said after talks with German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Germany, along with France and Britain, has been at the forefront of international diplomatic efforts to stop Iran enriching uranium amid fears the Islamic republic is planning to build nuclear weapons.
In the Tory stronghold of Chingford, previously Conservative voters and even some immigrants say they are considering switching allegiance to UKIP in May's general election. Mike Power reports from London.
Fast-food heavyweight McDonald's plans to increase the hourly pay of some of its US workers. It comes as large employers in low-paid service industries have announced wage hikes in response to mounting public pressure.
There are usually plenty of presents at both Easter and Christmas. But for German retailers, Christmas is a much bigger deal. And yet, the Easter bunny has overtaken Santa - well the chocolate variety at least.