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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
Argentina 'sorry' over Nazis
Fernando dela Rua
The Argentine president is keen to make amends for the past
The president of Argentina has apologised for providing a hiding place to Nazi war criminals after World War ll.



I apologise that this was allowed to happen

Fernando de la Rua
On a trip to the United States, President Fernando de la Rua also promised to investigate how Nazis were allowed to take sanctuary in Argentina and to punish any still at large.

Argentina was notorious for welcoming war criminals into the country when President Juan Peron was in power between 1945 and 1955.

Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann was captured by Israeli agents in Buenos Aires in 1960
More than 150 Nazis were given refuge - among them Adolf Eichmann, who is considered to have been the chief architect of the Nazi Holocaust.

Fernando de la Rua said he was now, on behalf of his country, keen to say sorry.

"I apologise that this was allowed to happen - we regret it with a deep feeling of pain."

Holocaust

He said he wanted people to know the mistakes of the past "to avoid any repetition, to prevent other forms of xenophobia and racism from taking root".

"It is important to express solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust."

The Washington representative of the World Jewish Congress, Douglas Bloomfield, said the statement was "commendable and very important".

At a news conference near the White House Mr de la Rua announced that a commission had been set up to open all Nazi files and find the truth.

The Argentine leader also said investigators would look into the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and an attack two years later on a Jewish community centre in the Argentine capital.

The embassy bombing killed 29 people, while 86 died in the attack on the community centre.

"We plan to find out the truth and want justice to be done," Mr de la Rua said.

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