JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel summoned the Argentinian ambassador on Tuesday in protest over an agreement between Iran and Argentina to jointly investigate the bombing 19 years ago of a Jewish center that killed 85 people in Buenos Aires and that was widely blamed on Tehran.
The terror attack was the deadliest on Argentinian soil, coming just two years after a bomb flattened the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the Argentina-Iran agreement, which was struck on Sunday, "is like inviting a murderer to investigate the killings he committed."
Argentine prosecutors have formally accused six Iranians of coordinating — under orders from their government — the July 18, 1994, bombing that demolished the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building.
The center, a symbol for Argentina's Jewish community, was destroyed and 85 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
Argentine officials have claimed that Iran masterminded the attack while agents of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group carried it out.
Among those accused of involvement in the community center bombing is Iran's current defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi. The Argentines have spent years seeking to interrogate the six with the help of Interpol, but Iran's government has refused to make them available until now.
On Sunday, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez announced via Twitter that her country and Iran agreed to establish an independent international "truth commission" to investigate the bombing.
The commissioners will examine the evidence and recommend how to proceed, "based on the laws and regulations of both countries," Fernandez said. Then, commissioners and Argentine investigators will travel to Teheran to question the suspects.
The agreement was signed in Africa by Argentinian foreign minister Hector Timerman and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.
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