Iran’s foreign minister says he sent a message on Twitter saying “Happy Rosh Hashana,” a local news website reported, in what is likely a small diplomatic step toward easing the hostilities between his nation and Israel.

Mohammad Javad Zarif told tasnimnews.com in an article published late Thursday night that he sent the message because Iran has a small Jewish community. But the message comes as Israel and Iran view each other with suspicion and contempt over Iran’s nuclear programme and former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denials that the Holocaust took place.

A subsequent Zarif’s tweet read- “Iran never denied it. The man who perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year.” It came after an account attributed to Christine Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, replied to Zarif’s Rosh Hashana tweet with- “The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran’s Holocaust denial, sir.”

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 “Happy Rosh Hashana” message, celebrating the Jewish New Year, may not dramatically shift international relations between Iran and Israel. Iran does not recognise Israel and supports militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas. The message does come, however, as President Hasan Rouhani, a moderate, slowly takes control of the country while trying to strike a more reconciliatory tone after Mr Ahmadinejad’s turbulent years in office. Mr Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel remarks also prompted repeated international outcry especially in the West.

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