Meeting of Argentina and Iran ministers rankles Israel, U.S.


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Israel expressed “disappointment” over Argentina’s decision to accept an Iranian invitation to bilateral talks.

“The Government of Israel received with great disappointment the news about the Argentine acceptance of a meeting with the Islamic Republic of Iran on a Foreign Ministers level,” the Israeli government said in a statement on Saturday. “Iran does not come with clean hands to this dialogue about global terrorist acts.”

Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, met Sept. 27 with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss the 1994 AMIA bombing case. The attack on the Jewish community’s main complex in Buenos Aires killed 85 and wounded hundreds. Iran is accused of directing the bombing that allegedly was carried out by the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.

Following their meeting, Timerman and Salehi issued a joint statement announcing that they would continue negotiations through government officials in Geneva next month.

“This process will not be interrupted until they both find a mutually agreed solution to the all matters between both governments related to the AMIA case … in order to explore a legal mechanism that is not at odds with the Argentine or Iranian legal systems,” the statement said.

The U.S. government also came out against the talks.

“Iran has had a nearly 20 years to comply with the requests from Argentine justice on the issues of the bombing of the Israeli embassy and the AMIA building. I’m not necessarily optimistic that they will respond any more positively now then they have in the past,” Roberta Jacobson, U.S. assistant secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said at a news conference last week. “Right now is the time for the international community to remain united in isolating Iran.”

Jewish leaders of AMIA, relatives of the victims and the leadership of DAIA, the Jewish political umbrella, told JTA that next week, after Sukkot, they will meet to clarify the position of the Jewish community with regards to the negotiations between Argentina and Iran. A strong document against the bilateral approach is expected.

The Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires said in a statement that “The report on the investigation by the task force of the Attorney General in Argentina determined accurately, and without a doubt, that the decision to bomb the AMIA building was taken by the leadership of the Iranian government.”

The statement said it hoped the delegation of Argentina would keep the evidence in mind during its meetings with the Iranians.

Iran also is believed to behind the 1992 car bombing that destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring 242.

No one has been convicted in the ’92 or ’94 attacks.

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