Bolivia’s Morales reportedly apologized for meeting with Iranian official

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Bolivian President Evo Morales apologized for meeting with Iran’s defense minister, Argentina Jewish leader Aldo Donzis said.

Donzis, head of the DAIA Jewish political umbrella in Argentina, said Morales made the apology when they met July 1 in Buenos Aires. Morales called the meeting with Ahmad Vahidi "a mistake," according to Donzis.

Argentina has accused Vahidi of planning the July 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. The Argentina Justice Department had called on Interpol to detain Vahidi, who has had an international arrest warrant issued against him since 2007.

Donzis met with Morales to protest the meeting on behalf of the Argentine Jewish community and the victims of the AMIA attack. Six Bolivian citizens who were working at the AMIA building were killed in the attack.

"I have to honestly say that this was a mistake and I express my deep and sincere apologies, " Morales said, Donzis told journalists after the meeting.

Morales’ office has not confirmed the apology.

Donzis said "it is not easy to find a president who clearly admits that he has made a mistake." During the meeting, the DAIA and Bolivian government agreed to "work together" on issues of immigration and discrimination.

Vahidi left Bolivia on May 31 after arriving the previous day on an official visit to attend a military ceremony led by Morales.

Donzis described his meeting with the Bolivian president as  "very positive." Bolivian government minister Sergio Solis Llorenti and that country’s ambassador in Argentina, Leonor Arauco Lemaitre, also attended the meeting.

While in Bolivia, Vahidi attended a ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of the Colmilav Military Aviation School. Diplomats from Cuba and Venezuela also attended.

In September 2009, the Iranian parliament unanimously approved Vahidi’s nomination to be the country’s defense minister. Vahidi declared that his appointment was "testimony to the anti-Zionist spirit of the Iranian Parliament and Iranian people."

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman has accused Iran of masterminding the AMIA attack and had requested that Vahidi be detained in Bolivia, which borders Argentina.

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