Argentina gives commitment to bomb probe: Israel
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Last Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 10:28
  
Buenos Aires: An Israeli official said on Wednesday that Argentina's foreign minister offered assurance his government is committed to investigating two terrorist bombings against Jews in this South American nation in the 1990s.

Earlier this week, the Israeli government asked Argentina to address the matter after a newspaper reported that Argentine officials had offered to stop the investigation in return for better trade ties with Iran. Argentina has long accused Iran of being behind the attacks.

On Wednesday, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman stated "his deep commitment to the investigation”, said Nathan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency, which handles Israel's relations with Jews in other countries.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirming Timerman met with Sharansky but it did not mention the investigation or the questions about Iran. The government has not commented on the Argentine newspaper's story.

In Argentina's worst terrorist attack, a bomb hidden in a parked van exploded outside the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and wounding 200. Two years earlier, a bomb destroyed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and killed 29 people.

Argentine officials have long alleged that Iran orchestrated both attacks, which they say were staged by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group. The United States and Israel also blame Iran. Iran's government denies any role in the bombings.

After his meeting with Timerman, Sharansky said plans were still on for Argentina's top diplomat to visit Israel next month.

Israeli media had said Israel's government was considering postponing the Timerman trip unless Argentina clarified its position following the report by the newspaper Perfil.

Perfil reported it had obtained an Iranian diplomatic memo detailing an offer from Argentina to drop the bomb investigation in return for better trade.

Perfil, which did not say how it obtained the memo, quoted Iranian Foreign Relations Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying: "Argentina is no longer interested in solving those two attacks, but in exchange prefers improving its economic relations with Iran."

The newspaper said Timerman made the offer via Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem during a January meeting in Aleppo, Syria.

Bureau Report


First Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 10:28


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