Israel expressed “disappointment” over the Argentinean 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. Iran does not come with clean hands to this dialogue about global terrorist acts,” the Israeli government said in a statement on Saturday.
Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Héctor Timerman, who is Jewish, met Sept. 27 with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to discuss the AMIA bombing case.
Eighty-five people were killed and hundreds injured in a July 18, 1994 bombing of the AMIA building, the Jewish community’s main complex in Buenos Ares, Argentina. Iran is accused of directing the bombing that the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah is accused of carrying out.
The United States government also came out against the talks. “Iran has had a nearly twenty 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 S. Jacobson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs said during a news conference. “Right now is the time for the international community to remain united in isolating Iran, “she added.
Local 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: “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. We hope that the delegation of Argentina keep this evidence during their meetings with the Iranians”.
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
. On July 18, 1994 a car bomb destroyed the AMIA building, killing 85 and injuring about 200. It was the second terrorist attack to occur in Argentina. On March 17, 1992, a car bomb destroyed Israel’s embassy, killing 29 and injured 242. Iran is believed to be behind both bombings. No one has been convicted in the attacks.