BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez said her country was receptive to Iran’s request for dialogue about the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center but must hand over the suspects.
“We insist that Iran hand over the suspects of the AMIA atrocity,” Fernandez said Wednesday during her address to the United Nations General Assembly. “The proposal of dialogue that we received from Iranian government is a change of attitude, but does not satisfy the Argentinian request, although this is a proposal to dialogue that Argentina cannot reject.”
The response was the first by Fernandez since Iran proposed a “constructive dialogue” on the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center, which killed 85 and injured hundreds. The proposal came July 16 — two days before the 17th anniversary of the attack.
Fernandez had invited leaders of the Jewish umbrella organization DAIA and of the AMIA, as well as a group of family and relatives of the center’s bombing victims, to accompany her to New York for the speech.
Argentina has accused the Iranian government of directing the bombing and the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah of carrying it out, but no arrests have been made in the case. Six Iranians have been on the Interpol international police agency’s most wanted list since 2007 in connection with the bombing, including the current Iranian defense minister, Gen. Ahmed Vahidi.
AMIA President Angel Barman told JTA that dialogue could be the way to bring the Iranians to justice.
Argentina’s ambassador to the U.N. was expected to remain in the auditorium during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the General Assembly on Thursday afternoon.
During her address, Fernandez also reiterated Argentinian support for a Palestinian state, which she originally expressed last December.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized what it termed Argentinian “confusion in dealing with terrorism.”
“To recognize Palestine without also demanding security for the Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian commitment against Hamas and its accomplices is an appeasement of terrorism and undermines Argentina’s demands for justice from Iran in the AMIA affair,” said the center’s Latin America director, Buenos Aires-based Sergio Widder.