03 June 2011
Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress (the regional affiliate of the World Jewish Congress), has accused Iran of setting up a military presence in Latin America in cooperation with the Bolivian army. Following a visit by Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi – a terror suspect who is wanted in Argentina – to Bolivia earlier this week, the Jewish leader expressed outrage over the invitation extended to the Iranian.
Terpins also called on Argentina to take a stronger stand against the Iranian regime, which is suspected of having planned the bombing of the Israeli Embassy building in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish center in the Argentine capital in 1994. Over a hundred people lost their lives in the bombings. “I don’t understand how Argentina can have such friendly relations with Iran, because it was a declaration of war when they killed over a hundred Argentinean citizens,” Terpins said, referring to the two terrorist attacks.
On Tuesday, Vahidi had attended a military ceremony in the city of Santa Cruz, in the presence of Bolivian President Evo Morales and Defense Minister Maria Cecilia Chacon. The Argentine authorities reacted immediately to news of Vahidi's visit, notifying Bolivian officials that they had sought his arrest since 2007. Guillermo Borger, president of the AMIA, the Jewish association whose building was destroyed in 1994, called Vahidi's presence a "provocation".
Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca subsequently sent a letter to his Argentine counterpart Hector Timerman, apologizing that an invitation had been extended to Vahidi. It had been issued by the Bolivian Defense Ministry without knowing the background to the case and had been not coordinated with other departments. The Iranian minister would be leaving immediately, the letter said.
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