Lieberman Discusses Iranian Role in Argentine Bombing

Buenos Aires has issued warrants for six Iranians over the 1994 attack on a Jewish Center which killed 85.

BUENOS AIRES - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed Iran's controversial role in Latin America while in Buenos Aires this weekend.

Lieberman is on a 10-country visit in Latin America, and is spending four days in Argentina, home to Latin America's largest Jewish community.

This is the first such visit by an Israel cabinet official in more than two decades. Jerusalem has openly described it as a bid to counter Iran's growing influence in the region.

Buenos Aires has issued warrants for six Iranians over the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85.

In spite of Tehran's denial of any official link and refusal to hand over the suspects, Lieberman told reporters for local Jewish newspapers that Tehran was "involved."

The Iranians are "gaining on us," he said at the closed press conference.

In an appearance before international media on Thursday, he described Iran's push for nuclear arms as a "threat to the entire world."

While in Brazil, his first stop in South America, he suggested Brazil could be a Middle East peace mediator.

Lieberman's visit has sparked protests in Argentina, which has a strong culture of political activism.

Leading members of the Buenos Aires Jewish community said the protests did not concern them.

"The regrettable truth is that these rallies, organized against the Israeli state, Argentine state, are a bothersome constant. But they have no meaning, they are just out to oppose. The truth is, for us, this visit is really good, and he is very welcome. It's a pleasure and an honor," said Carlos Frauman, the president of Argentine Zionist Organization (OSA).

Other leading members of the Argentine Jewish community said the trip served a more utilitarian purpose.

"It's been more than 20 years for such a visit. And his presence is very important. The direct connection and direct contact will generate a closer relation. Obviously, this improves relations, and will help for the passage of the free trade deal with MERCOSUR," said Aldo Donis, the president of the Israeli Argentine Association of Delegations (DAIA), the umbrella group for all active Jewish groups in Argentina.

The MERCOSUR trade bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and five other associate nations is currently mulling in each state a free trade deal with Jerusalem.

Lieberman spent most of Friday in closed meetings with top Argentine officials.