Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was summoned by the Islamic Republic’s parliament after he made remarks to German television in which he called the Holocaust a “horrifying tragedy,” the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

Reuters reported that Zarif – who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator with the U.S. and other Western nations – is to appear in a closed session on Tuesday after 54 lawmakers signed a petition calling for him to come before them.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

The petition followed expressions of disapproval from the Iranian public to Zarif’s interview.

It’s the second time in recent months that a prominent Iranian politician has made remarks acknowledging the brutality of the Holocaust, a stark contrast to the repeated denials from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who repeatedly called it a myth.

In an apparent effort to convey a more moderate image than his predecessor, President Hassan Rouhani said in September he did not deny the Holocaust and condemned it as a crime against humanity.

“I have said before that I am not a historian, and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect on it,” Rouhani told CNN. “But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, was reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned.”

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