Argentine president defends cooperation with Iran
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Argentine president defends cooperation with Iran

'Dialogue is a part of Argentina's foreign policy,' says Fernandez of move to involve Tehran in investigation of 1994 bombing

Families of victims of the 1994 AMIA bombing mark the anniversary of the attack in 2006. (photo credit: AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
Families of victims of the 1994 AMIA bombing mark the anniversary of the attack in 2006. (photo credit: AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Thursday defended her country’s widely criticized decision to partner with Iran in an investigation into a 1994 bombing that many believe was carried out by Iranian agents, Reuters reported.

“The memorandum of understanding we have signed is a step toward unblocking a case that has been paralyzed for 19 years,” she said in an appeal to Congress to approve a “truth commission” initiative that has drawn harsh condemnation from Israel and the local Jewish community.

“What I want to avoid… is the pain of the [victims’] families and the country’s shame by finding the path to break the deadlock,” Fernandez said. “Dialogue is a part of Argentina’s foreign policy.”

The joint Argentine-Iranian probe, announced last week, was hailed as “historic” by Fernandez but decried by Argentinian Jewish groups.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman reportedly rebuked the Israeli ambassador to Buenos Aires during a recent meeting, castigating Israel for demanding an explanation for the recently announced joint Argentine-Iranian probe into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center, which killed 85 and injured hundreds.

Timerman summoned Ambassador Dorit Shavit for a “difficult, intense and unpleasant” meeting on January 31, according to Foreign Ministry sources quoted in Haaretz. In the meeting, he “sharply criticized” Israel for interfering in Argentina’s affairs and implied that Israel’s interest in the bombing “encourages anti-Semitism” by implying Jewish Argentinians have split loyalties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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