Hector Timerman 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Last week’s report in an Argentinean paper that Argentina was willing to stop investigating two bombings of Jewish targets there in the 1990s in return for improved economic ties with Iran is expected to be a major focus when Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman begins his official visit to Israel on Monday.
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Timerman, who arrived Saturday, is scheduled to meet separately with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday.
Timerman’s visit was in doubt for days, until it become clear that he would address the report in Jerusalem, most probably at a press conference scheduled Monday after his meeting with Lieberman.
Israeli diplomatic officials were miffed that up until now Timerman has not publicly related to the report that appeared in the Perfil tabloid.
Israel’s ambassador asked the Argentinean Foreign Ministry for clarifications soon after the report appeared some 10 days ago, but no response was forthcoming. Instead, Israel heard through unofficial channels that Timerman said he would not dignify the report with a comment, and that he does not have to give a third country an accounting of Argentina’s relations with other countries.
Timerman met Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, and after that meeting Sharansky was quoted as saying that Timerman reiterated his “deep commitment to the investigation” into the two bombings in 1992 and 1994 – one at the Israeli Embassy and the other at the Jewish center in the capital – that killed 114 people and left hundreds wounded.
The Argentinean Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirming the meeting with Sharansky, but said nothing about the newspaper article.
Israel, Argentina and the US have all blamed Iran for the bombings, which were allegedly carried out by Hezbollah. Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi is one of five people wanted by Interpol for the Jewish center bombing.
Timerman met in Damascus in January with Syrian President Bashar Assad and, according to Perfil, after that meeting the Iranian foreign minister wrote to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying that Argentina was “no longer interested in solving these two attacks, but would rather improve its economic relations with Iran.”
Timerman is the son of Jacobo Timerman, the Jewish journalist and publisher imprisoned and tortured during Argentina’s Dirty War from 1976-1983. After his release from prison in 1979, Timerman was exiled and immigrated to Israel, where he became an acerbic leftwing critic of the government’s policies. He returned to Argentina in 1984.
This is Timerman’s first visit here since becoming foreign minister last June. In addition to meeting Netanyahu and Lieberman, he is also scheduled to meet Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor, opposition head Tzipi Livni, and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Shaul Mofaz.