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Romanian Minister Says No Offense Meant In Auschwitz Comment

Romanian Agricultural Minister Petre Daea

A senior Romanian government official said on July 26 that he did not intend to offend Jews when he compared the incineration of pigs with swine fever to the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp.

In a statement, Agriculture Minister Petre Daea, said that he had respect for "all members of the Jewish community," and his remarks were only meant to highlight difficulties faced by pig farmers who have to incinerate infected livestock.

Romania has reported 400 separate outbreaks of African swine fever in the Danube Delta and near the border with Hungary.

Daea had told a television station earlier this week that the cremation of thousands of sick pigs was "very hard work, it's like Auschwitz."

Two main opposition parties -- the Liberal Party and the Save Romania Union (USR) -- have strongly criticized Daea's statement and called for his resignation.

Israel's Embassy to Bucharest on July 26 voiced "dismay and disappointment" over the remarks.

The death of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust "should never be forgotten, trivialized or minimalized," the embassy said in a statement.

Romania's Antidiscrimination Council said it would summon Daea to explain the comments.

Romania's center-left government has recently been embroiled in controversy over frequent gaffes or comments made by senior officials.

On an official visit to Montenegro on July 25, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila told her Montenegrin counterpart Dusko Markovic that she was "happy to be in Pristina, in a first visit by a Romanian PM to Montenegro."

Pristina is the capital of Kosovo, a Balkan state whose independence EU and NATO member Romania does not officially recognize.

With reporting by AP

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