Ahmadinejad AFP/File

Iran’s denial of the Holocaust was damaging to the Islamic Republic, a potential presidential candidate has admitted, according to a report in Al-Monitor.

The candidate, mayor of Tehran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, sat down with the Iranian-based Tasnim news agency to present his positions on foreign policy and economics.

The mayor of Tehran said during the interview he believes that tactics can take the form of diplomacy, which he believes he would perform better than those of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He said “steps were taken and words were said that not only did not help us push our programs forward, but it also gave our opponents the opportunity to gather others against us. Controversial but useless remarks and slogans and presentations struck a blow against us and weakened our rightful position.”

“For instance,” added Gahlibaf, “where did the case of the Holocaust take us? We were never against Judaism; it’s a religion. What we opposed was Zionism. We’ve been the major supporters of Palestine for 30 years, but with the intelligence of Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei, no one could accuse us of being anti-Semitic. But suddenly without consideration for the results and implications, the issue of the Holocaust was raised. How did his benefit the revolution or the Palestinians?”

Ghalibaf added that the Holocaust denial became an “excuse for our biggest enemies, which are the Zionists, and affected the goals of the Palestinians.”

“Defending the goals of the Palestinians is part of the principles of our foreign policy. Denying the Holocaust is not part of our foreign policy,” he said, adding that “we have seen a lot of damages in the area of foreign policy” due to this type of politics.

Ahmadinejad has several times denied the Holocaust, saying in one interview it “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie” that Israel exploits to suppress Palestinian Authority Arabs.

Ahmadinejad asserted in that interview that Jews “never were rulers of this land. They made a story named Holocaust, and the Palestinians have to pay the price for it.”

He repeatedly called Israel “an artificial state."

In another incident Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust was exaggerated in order to create a pretext for starting a war. He remarked that the Holocaust is a matter that must researched further.

"We need to ask where the Holocaust took place, and why must the Palestinian people continue to suffer because of it?" Ahmadinejad said.

In the interview, Ghalibaf also addressed the possibility of Iran-U.S. negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“Negotiations are neither taboo, nor will they solve all of the problems. Negotiations are a tool,” he said, according to Al-Monitor. “When it’s necessary at points, we will certainly negotiate with America. Negotiating with America has never been a red line for us.”