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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 August, 2003, 23:55 GMT 00:55 UK
Iran cuts ties with Argentina
By Miranda Eeles
BBC correspondent in Tehran

Iran has announced that it is cutting cultural and economic ties with Argentina after the arrest of its former ambassador to Buenos Aires in Britain last week.

Hadi Soleimanpour was arrested by British police on Thursday in Durham, northeast England, over his alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 in which 85 people died.

The aftermath of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires
No one has been charged over the 1994 bombing
The diplomatic row intensified between all three countries after senior British and Argentine diplomats were summoned to Iran's foreign ministry in protest at the arrest.

According to the state news agency, IRNA, the Argentine Charge d'Affaires was informed his government would be held accountable for all the legal and political impacts of the ruling.

The British Charge d'Affaires was told the court case and arrest of Mr Soleimanpour was politically motivated and orchestrated by what it called the Zionist regime.

He was asked to order the immediate release of the former diplomat. Mr Soleimanpour appeared in court on Friday in connection to the bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association building.

He is alleged to have been involved in planning and commissioning the bombing and that he provided information about the location and timing of the attack.

Mr Soleimanpour's arrest has caused a media storm here in Tehran, with one right-wing paper calling on the British ambassador to be kicked out.

It is not yet clear how serious the diplomatic fall-out could be. Relations between Iran and Britain have never been easy, but the trend in the last few years has shown signs of improvement.

The British foreign secretary Jack Straw has visited the country four times in the last two years and there is growing co-operation between the two countries over issues such as Afghanistan and fighting the drugs trade.

Diplomats say this tentative softening of relations could now be in jeopardy.




SEE ALSO:
Iran pulls envoy from Argentina
12 Mar 03  |  Americas
Iran diplomat called in bomb row
11 Mar 03  |  Americas
Iran denies Argentina blast role
09 Mar 03  |  Americas
Argentina Jewish bomb trial starts
24 Sep 01  |  Americas


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