Leading rabbis of Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist group of ultra-Orthodox Jews who consider the existence of Israel an abomination, met with Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iran's Vice President, the top-selling Yediot Aharonot reported.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the Jewish state "must be wiped off the map" or moved as far away as Alaska - comments that have provoked anger in the West and condemnation from the UN Security Council.

Rabbi Dovid Weiss, the group's spokesman, was quoted as supporting Ahmadinejad's call during an interview on Iranian television last week.

Although all of the rabbis who visited Iran live in either New York or London, there are some 400 Neturei Karta families living in Jerusalem who refuse to recognise Israel's authority.

'Wish for calm'

The Iranian Fars News Agency reports that the group said in a statement that Ahmadinejad's call for a "world free from Zionism ... is nothing more than wishing for a better world dominated by peace and calm."

"The issue of the Holocaust has to do with the Zionist use ... The Zionists are using this issue. We, the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, do not use the Holocaust as a tool for promoting our cause"

Rabbi Dovid Weiss
Neturei Karta 

"This means a true hope for a peaceful life and coexistence between the Jewish and Muslim communities following the dismantlement of the Zionist regime," the group's statement added.

The group also said that it was "a dangerous deviation" to pretend that the Iranian president is an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic personality since President Ahmadinejad, in fact, restated what the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khomeini had frequently stated.

"That is, Zionism is different from Judaism and while the Zionist state of Israel must be disintegrated, the Jewish communities world wide and the religion of Judaism must be respected."

Holocaust

Following Ahmadinejad's claim that the Holocaust - the killing of an estimated six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II - was a myth used to justify the creation of Israel, the visiting rabbis agreed the mass killing had been hijacked by Zionists.

Weiss was quoted as saying: "The issue of the Holocaust has to do with the Zionist use ... The Zionists are using this issue. We, the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust, do not use the Holocaust as a tool for promoting our cause."

"Neturei Karta are well known for their hatred towards Israel," Yediot Aharonot wrote, "but it seems that this time they have crossed the line."