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ARGENTINA | 15-04-2024 16:07

Milei proclaims Argentina's 'unwavering commitment' to Israel after Iran attack

Argentina’s government expresses its “solidarity and unwavering commitment" to Israel in the face of weekend attack by Iran.

Argentina’s government has expressed its “solidarity and unwavering commitment" to the State of Israel in the face of this weekend’s attack from Iran.

In a statement issued by President Javier Milei’s office, the Casa Rosada backed a potential Israeli response after the Islamic Republic launched dozens of drones and missiles on Saturday.

"The Argentine Republic recognises the right of nation-states to defend themselves, and emphatically supports the State of Israel in the defence of its sovereignty, especially against regimes that promote terror and seek the destruction of Western civilisation,” declared Milei’s office in a statement.

"The Government of the Argentine Republic categorically condemns the unprecedented attack by the Islamic Republic of Iran against the State of Israel and reaffirms its support for Israel's legitimate right to defend its sovereignty. The Argentine government urges Iran to cease its unjustified attacks and avoid a global crisis," the Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement.

Milei cut short an international tour, suspended a trip to Denmark and flew back to Buenos Aires from Miami on Sunday as the crisis in the Middle East intensified.

The statement is the latest proof of Argentina’s diplomatic re-alignment under Milei, who has said his international allies are Israel, the United States and “the forces of the West.” 

In an interview earlier this week, Milei – who grew up Catholic but has a professed "fanaticism" for Judaism – said "the important thing is to ally with Israel."

He has promised to move Argentina's Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as a show of support for the Jewish state.

The extent of his support was underlined when it emerged Sunday night that Milei had invited Israel’s ambassador to Argentina to attend a meeting of top government officials at the Casa Rosada.

Milei’s spokesperson said the La Libertad Avanza leader had set up a “crisis committee” to “to take charge of the situation and coordinate actions with the presidents of the Western world.”

A first meeting took place on Sunday night after Milei landed in Buenos Aires, with Vice-President Victoria Villarruel and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, among others, in attendance. 

"The whole free world is under threat. This question of being neutral or not neutral has become obsolete. There is no distinction between whether or not Argentina is at risk, the world is at risk," said Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni on Monday.

Speaking Sunday, Israel’s Ambassador to Argentina Eyal Sela thanked the Milei government for its support in the wake of the Iranian attack. 

"We are very grateful to President Milei. This was my message that I gave to the president and the Cabinet, of the gratitude of the State of Israel, of President [Isaac] Herzog and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu," Sela said in an interview with a local radio station.

Sela confirmed that Milei had invited him to a meeting on Sunday night at the Casa Rosada involving other officials. 

"The president invited me to give a few words of a diplomatic nature on the crisis, which lasted a few minutes,” he said in a radio interview. 

"Then I left the meeting, we went to record a message and the meeting went on without my presence for most of the time,” he added.

Adorni said that the diplomat had been present, but had not participated in the meeting that followed. 

Government officials have ordered that security be stepped up in Buenos Aires in the wake of the crisis. Four embassies of Middle Eastern nations – Israel, Iran, Lebanon and Syria – were preventatively shuttered on Sunday night as a precautionary measure.

Last week, a local court issued a ruling blaming the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre, both in Buenos Aires, on Iran. Labelling the Islamic Republic a “terrorist state,” it accused Hezbollah of involvement in the attack.

The 1992 Embassy attack killed 29 people and wounded 200, while the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) community centre was struck by a car bomb, killing 995 people and wounding more than 300.

Israel has long suspected that Tehran and the Lebanese militant group were behind the two terrorist attacks. 

Referring to possible new attacks, Ambassador Sela said: "You can never rule out another attack and you always have to take measures, but we don't have any concrete information about anything in Argentina, it's important to stress that.”

Adorni said Monday that the Defence, Interior and Security Ministries are coordinating their work and taking the necessary measures to “increase border control, with the intention of detecting any episode that "could attract attention.”

"Argentina will always defend the free world," the national official stressed, adding: "Our position is to defend democracies, the free world and the rights of the citizens of the world who are attacked by states and governments that do not want peace.”

"We do not believe that confronting a problem the world is facing will make us a target or change the situation in a country that has already had attacks," Adorni insisted.


– TIMES/AFP/NA
 

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