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NY hotel axes event with Ahmadinejad on guest list

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York’s Helmsley Hotel said on Friday it canceled a banquet set for next week when it learned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was on the guest list, saying the man who called the Holocaust a lie was not welcome.

Ahmadinejad was due in New York next week to attend the U.N. General Assembly, and his public appearances outside the meeting have generated controversy in recent years.

“As soon as Helmsley corporate management learned of the possibility of either the Iranian mission or President Ahmadinejad holding a function at the New York Helmsley Hotel, they immediately ordered the cancellation of that function,” hotel spokesman Howard Rubenstein said in a statement.

“Neither the Iranian mission nor President Ahmadinejad is welcome at any Helmsley facility,” the statement said without saying why.

A group called United Against Nuclear Iran told the hotel that Ahmadinejad was on the guest list, he said.

The New York Post reported the banquet was booked months ago by an Iranian student group.

Ahmadinejad on Friday called the Holocaust “a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim” in comments to worshipers at Tehran University.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Xavier Briand