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Castro criticises Iran on anti-Semitism

Fidel Castro has criticised the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for denying the Holocaust and promoting anti-Semitism. The former Cuban leader also warned that an escalating conflict between Iran and the West could lead to nuclear war.

Mr Castro, speaking to a US journalist, questioned his own actions during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Asked if he stood by his recommendation for the Soviets to bomb America, he said: "It wasn't worth it at all."

Mr Castro was speaking to Jeffrey Goldberg, of The Atlantic magazine based in Washington, whom he personally invited to Cuba. Goldberg said the former revolutionary leader, 84, who has himself been a fierce critic of Israel, "repeatedly returned to his excoriation of anti-Semitism" and chided Mr Ahmadinejad.

He said Iran could further the cause of peace by "acknowledging the 'unique' history of anti-Semitism and trying to understand why Israelis fear for their existence". According to Goldberg, Mr Castro said: "I don't think anyone has been slandered more than the Jews. I would say much more than the Muslims."

The Iranian government should understand that Jews "were expelled from their land, persecuted and mistreated all over the world, as the ones who killed God", Mr Castro added.

He led Cuba for almost 50 years after leading a revolution. Mr Castro fell ill in 2006 and handed power to his brother, Raul, in 2008. Since then, his public speeches and televised appearances have been rare.