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Argentina to meet Iran over 1994 terror attack

Handout picture released by the Argentinian Presidency of Argentinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hector Timerman taking a picture of Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in New York on September 23, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / PRESIDENCIA)

United Nations: Argentina's president announced Tuesday a meeting with Iran at its request over a 1994 terror attack in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people at a Jewish association, for which her country blames Tehran.

President Cristina Kirchner, who is at the U.N. General Assembly taking place this week in New York, said she had instructed her foreign minister to hold the talks with his Iranian counterpart at some point in the future at the U.N.

It would be the first such meeting between the two countries over the attack, which has soured relations between them for more than a decade.

Argentina has charged that Iran masterminded the bombing at a building housing Jewish charities and NGOs in the Argentina capital.

Kirchner said that, as Iran has said it wants to cooperate with Argentina's probe, she expects results from the discussions.

"We expect proposals on how to move forward on this deep conflict that goes back to 1994," Kirchner told the General Assembly.

She added however that she would not act on any proposal without first consulting with victims of the attack and political parties back home.

Argentina has South America's largest Jewish community, about 300,000.

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

Besides the fatalities, more than 300 people were injured in the country's worst terrorist attack. The six-story building that housed the association was leveled.

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

Kirchner recalled Tuesday that Argentina has raised the possibility of holding a trial in a third country.

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

In July of last year, the Iranian foreign ministry denied those eight 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.

The Jewish community in Argentina welcomed news of the meeting with Iran.

"It would be a glimmer of hope" if the talks lead to the Iranian suspects being brought to justice in Argentina, said AMIA president Guillermo Borger.

 

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