Argentinean and Iranian officials were scheduled to meet in Geneva on Monday to discuss the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Argentina seeks the extradition of eight suspects in the attack, including Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Eighty-five people were killed and some 300 injured in the July 18, 1994 bombing of the AMIA building, the Jewish community’s main complex in Argentina’s capital. Iran is accused of planning the bombing, which was carried out by the Lebanese-based terror group Hezbollah.
Hector Timerman, Argentina’s Jewish foreign minister, met recently on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi. The ministers resolved at the meeting to step up diplomatic contacts between the two countries.
“This process [of negotiation] will not be interrupted until they both find a mutually agreed solution to all matters between both governments related to the AMIA case … in order to explore a legal mechanism that is not at odds with the Argentinean or Iranian legal systems,” said the sides in a mutual statement in September.
The Islamic Republic announced in July 2011 its willingness to cooperate with Argentina’s investigation into the bombing. At the time, it’s foreign ministry condemned the attack and offered condolences to the families of those killed while denying any responsibility for the blast.
In October 2010, Iran rejected Argentina’s proposal to put its accused citizens on trial in a neutral country.
Iran’s foreign ministry last year offered a “constructive dialogue” with Argentina to “shed all possible light” on the case, according to a statement carried by IRNA, Iran’s official news agency.
Leading up to Monday’s meeting of the foreign ministers, Jewish leaders expressed skepticism at the potential outcome of the talks.
“We can’t start a dialogue if there is a pending legal situation,” Aldo Donzis, president of the Argentinean Jewish umbrella group, told journalists. “Iran must present those suspected to Argentinean justice.”