Iranian wanted by Argentina visits Bolivia

By the Associated Press | May 31, 2011 | 10:27 PM EDT

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Iran's defense minister, whose extradition is sought by neighboring Argentina for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center, briefly visited Bolivia on Tuesday, raising tensions between the countries.

Gen. Ahmad Vahidi is wanted by Buenos Aires as an alleged mastermind of the bombing, which killed 85 people. Interpol issued a red notice for Vahidi in 2007, notifying members that Argentina was seeking his arrest.

Bolivia's defense ministry said in a brief statement that Vahidi arrived Tuesday to help inaugurate a defense academy for members of the leftist ALBA alliance, which includes Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Some ALBA countries have close ties with Iran.

Guillermo Borger, president of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, called on Argentina's government to file a formal protest with Bolivia.

Later Tuesday, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca wrote a letter to Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman saying that Vahidi had left the country at the request of the Bolivian government, which had invited him.

"I want to express in the name of the Government of Bolivia my deepest apologies," the letter said.