On Visit to Argentina, Peres Pays Respects, Offers Support

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres used a visit here last week to pay his respects to the victims of last year’s terrorist bombing and to offer his government’s support to Argentina’s ongoing investigation into the attack.

Argentina’s courts are still investigating the July 18, 1994, bombing of the country’s largest Jewish community organization, as well as the March 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy here. The two attacks claimed more than 100 lives and injured hundreds more.

Peres told reporters during a brief stopover here last Friday that his trip served both as a goodwill visit and an attempt to “support local intelligence services’ efforts to find the contacts in this country of terrorist groups that planned the attacks.”

Under heavy security, Peres met Argentine President Carlos Menem, during which he reportedly put pressure on Argentina to find those responsible for the two attacks.

Peres also laid wreaths at the sites of the two attacks and met with relatives of some of the victims.

In interviews in Buenos Aires and Punta del Este, Uruguay, Peres said his government is convinced that Iran was behind the attacks. But Peres declined to divulge the specifics of his talks with Menem.

Intelligence agents from Argentina, the United States, Israel and neighboring Latin American nations are reported to be searching for suspects in the border region between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, an area that is home to large Arab communities.

Peres said he believed Argentina was committed to resolving the attacks, but added that the authorities should be vigilant to prevent yet another terrorist incident.

“The most important thing is to keep a very careful watch to obtain information about suspicious people or suspicious movements” to prevent a third such attack in Argentina, he said.

So far two Argentine men are the only suspects who have been jailed for either attack.

Carlos Telleldin is accused of selling a Renault van to the terrorists who blew up the offices of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) last July. The other man, Hugo Perez, is Telleldin’s former housemate.

Over the weekend, Peres met with Uruguayan President-elect Julio Maria Sanguinetti and Jewish leaders from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay in Punta del Este. According to the Buenos Aires daily Clarin, Peres discussed the current status of the Middle East peace process with the Jewish leaders.

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