Cincinnati, June 26--(AP) Evangelist Billy Graham made his first face-to-face apology for anti-Jewish comments he made at the White House that were recorded 30 years ago, an aide said Wednesday.

The apology came Sunday at Graham's first meeting with Jewish leaders since tapes were released in March revealing a 1972 conversation with President Nixon in which the Southern Baptist evangelist expressed disdain for what he saw as Jewish domination of the media, aide Melany Ethridge said. "This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country's going down the drain," Graham said to Nixon.

Rabbi George Barnard, president of the Cincinnati Board of Rabbis, said Graham told the small private group that his remarks were unforgivable. The group also included Michael Rapp, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Federation of Cincinnati, and Neil Bortz, president of the Jewish Federation. "He doesn't remember them, and we accept that as fact," Rapp said. "He apologized, he repudiated the anti-Jewish sentiments that were attributed to him, and he hoped his actions on behalf of the Jewish people over the years contradicts the words he spoke."

In a statement in March, the frail, 83-year-old evangelist had said he had no memory of the meeting with Nixon, but deeply regretted the comments. "They do not reflect my views and I sincerely apologize for any offense caused by the remarks," Graham said in the statement.

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