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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ahmadinejad Confronts Critics at U.S. Meeting

NEW YORK -- After railing against U.S. global dominance at the United Nations this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared with some of his most-prominent U.S. critics to debate issues including Iran's nuclear program and his denial of the Holocaust.

The 90-minute closed event on Wednesday night was hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank and, The New York Times reported, boycotted by leaders of several Jewish groups.

The Times quoted Ahmadinejad as saying "The U.S. doesn't speak for the whole world" in its opposition to Iran's nuclear program. It also quoted Robert Blackwill, a former deputy national security adviser under U.S. President George W. Bush, as wondering after the session whether negotiations with Ahmadinejad's government would ever be possible.

In a discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Times said, Ahmadinejad asked why Palestinians should "pay for an event they had nothing to do with" in World War II.

The meeting is the highest-level recent attempt at an informal Iranian-U.S. dialogue, even as the two governments exchange heated rhetoric over nuclear weapons, terrorism and Middle East security.

The Times, whose reporter David Sanger attended as an invited member of the council, quoted Ahmadinejad as repeatedly questioning evidence of the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. Noting the 60 million total death toll of World War Two, Ahmadinejad asked, "Why is such prominence given to a small portion of those 60 million?"