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Bolivian president apologizes for hosting Iranian defense minister

By the CNN Wire Staff
Bolivian President Evo Morales "recognized he made a mistake," according to a statement.
Bolivian President Evo Morales "recognized he made a mistake," according to a statement.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bolivia's invitation of Ahmad Vahidi was criticized by Jewish groups in Argentina
  • Vahidi is wanted in Argentina for his alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish center
  • President Morales says "undoubtedly a mistake" was made, a Jewish group says
RELATED TOPICS
  • Bolivia
  • Argentina
  • Iran

(CNN) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales is apologizing to the Jewish community in neighboring Argentina for having hosted the Iranian defense minister last month.

Morales "recognized he made a mistake," according to a statement posted Saturday on the website of the Argentine umbrella organization for the Jewish community, DAIA. The published apology came a day after Jewish leaders met with the president to discuss the case and other matters.

The Iranian minister, Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted in Argentina for his alleged role in planning the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.

Bolivia's defense ministry had invited Vahidi to attend the inauguration of a military academy as a guest. Bolivia's president was also at the event.

Interpol has issued a "red notice" for Vahidi, which seeks other governments' help in detaining him for possible extradition, and the DAIA demanded that Bolivia arrest him when they learned of his visit. Instead, Bolivian authorities asked Vahidi to leave the South American country immediately, which he did.

Morales told the Jewish group that "sincerely, I have to admit that this was undoubtedly a mistake."

At Friday's meeting, in addition to the Vahidi case, representatives from the DAIA and Morales also discussed international security, terrorism, Holocaust deniers, diplomacy and development.

Vahidi's boss, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has in the past denied the existence of the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of some 6 million Jews during World War II. He has also suggested Israel should be "wiped off the map."