11282014Fri

Argentina digs in on Iran terror probe plan

BUENOS AIRES (AFP) — Argentina's top diplomat on Wednesday insisted that an Argentine judge would question Iranian suspects in the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish charities building, despite an apparent Iranian refusal.

Foreign Minister Hector Timerman gave the assurance to a Senate committee a day after Iran's foreign ministry said assertions that former Iranian officials would be questioned were "a sheer lie."

Timerman insisted, however, that Iran had agreed in a memorandum of understanding to the questioning of eight Iranians wanted for the bombing, which killed 85 people.

The eight include Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who have had international arrests warrants out against them since 2006.

"The Iranian foreign minister said that he is going to implement all the points that were agreed on in the memorandum of understanding, and that the accused will be questioned," Timerman told the Senate committee.

Iran "will comply with all points of the agreement," he added.

Iran has repeatedly denied involvement in the bombing, and has refused to arrest the suspects.

But last month, President Cristina Kirchner announced an agreement with Iran to create an independent "truth commission" to investigate the bombing, and said it would clear the way for the Iranian suspects to be questioned by an Argentine judge.

The negotiations have been sharply criticized by Israel and Argentina's 300,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.

Both have demanded there be no let-up in the Argentine authorities' efforts to put the Iranian suspects on trial.

Israel's foreign ministry has protested the agreement, while Washington has cast doubt that any solution will emerge from the deal.

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