29 March 2011
Israel has asked Argentina to clarify if a report is true that Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman offered Iran to stop investigating Iranian terror suspects in exchange for better bilateral trade relations. Timerman, who he Jewish, is scheduled to visit Israel next week. He allegedly made the offer during a visit to Damascus in January. Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Moallem conveyed the offer to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Argentine weekly newspaper ‘Perfil’ broke the story over the weekend, citing a classified Iranian document. According to it, Argentina hopes the deal would lead to more trade with Iran, which is currently estimated at US$ 1.2 billion a year.
Under the deal reported by ‘Perfil’, Argentina would drop its investigations into the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, which killed 29 and injured 242, and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and more than 300 injured. Iran is accused of being behind the attacks.
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said they would await a response from their Argentinean counterparts on the veracity of the report before deciding how to handle the visit, according to Israeli news reports.
Argentinean prosecutor Alberto Nisman denied the ‘Perfil’ report. “It is absolutely preposterous, absurd,” he told ‘Prensa Judia’, a local Jewish newspaper. “It has been a long time since I last read such nonsense.” Nisman said that efforts to complete the investigations had continued without hindrance. “I am convinced that the Argentine government thinks nothing of [the report. It is absolutely false… It is crazy, it does not have any logic,” he was quoted by the ‘Jerusalem Post’ as saying. The investigation into the 1994 AMIA bombing is currently in its 17th year. Nisman said it was progressing and several breakthroughs could be expected this year.
AMIA President Guillermo Borger also rejected the reports. On the sidelines of a World Jewish Congress meeting in São Paulo he said such reports were “barely credible” given that President Cristina Fernandez and the Argentinean government had made clear on numerous occasions that Iran needed to collaborate with the investigation.
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