Last updated: 28 September, 2012

Argentina and Iran meet over Jewish center bombing

The foreign ministers of Argentina and Iran met at the United Nations to discuss the deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, officials said.

Argentina has accused Iran of masterminding the bombing that killed 85 people at a building housing Jewish charities and NGOs in Buenos Aires.

Both sides agreed to continue their dialogue “until a solution is found,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said in a statement.

Timerman met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, “and decided to continue negotiations” in Geneva in October, the statement read.

The dialogue seeks to “explore a legal mechanism that is not in contradiction with the legal systems of Argentina and Iran,” it added.

In the July 18, 1994 attack, a van loaded with explosives detonated outside the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Aid Association, or AMIA in Spanish.

More than 300 people were also injured in the blast, which leveled the six-story building housing the association. It was Argentina’s worst terror attack ever.

Argentina indicted and sought the extradition of eight Iranians over the massacre in 2006, including current defense minister and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

In July 2011, the Iranian foreign ministry denied those people were involved, but said it was prepared to hold a “constructive dialogue” and “cooperate with the Argentine government to shed all light” on the attack.

Argentine prosecutors allege that the attack was planned and financed in Tehran and carried out by a Hezbollah cell.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner said that, since Iran has indicated it wants to cooperate with Argentina’s probe, she expects results from the discussions.

Argentina, which has South America’s largest Jewish community at about 300,000 people, has raised the possibility of holding a trial in a third country.

AMIA president Guillermo Borger said it would be a “ray of hope” if those suspected of participating in the bombing appear in Argentine courts as a result of the meets between Argentine and Iranian officials.

The AMIA bombing was not the only anti-Jewish assault in Buenos Aires.

In 1992, a pickup truck loaded with explosives detonated outside the Israeli embassy in the Argentine capital, killing 29 people. Most of the victims were Argentines.