AJC Delegation Meets Guatemala President, Foreign Minister

February 21, 2012 – New York – An AJC delegation has concluded a two-day  diplomatic mission to Guatemala City, Guatemala.

On Monday, the AJC group, along with leaders of Guatemala's Jewish community, was received by President Otto Perez Molina and Foreign Minister Harold Caballeros at the Presidential Palace for a one-hour meeting. The visit to Guatemala also included meetings with U.S. Ambassador Arnold Chacon and Israeli Ambassador Eliyahu Lopez.

Topics of discussion with the President and Foreign Minister included Guatemala's position, since January 1, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council; Guatemala-U.S. bilateral relations; regional issues, including Iranian efforts to make inroads in the Western Hemisphere; and issues of particular concern to the Jewish community.

"AJC's consultations in Guatemala were very positive and forward-looking," said AJC Executive Director David Harris, who led the delegation.  "The country, while faced with significant domestic and regional challenges, stands today as a valued friend of the U.S. and Israel, and committed to playing a constructive role as a newly-minted member of the Security Council."

"In particular, we applaud the position of President Perez Molina, who blocked the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after the Iranian leader declared his intention to stop in Guatemala City for the inauguration of the new government last month. Similarly, we appreciate this government's support of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict via the negotiating table with Israel, and not through end-runs at the UN,” Harris continued.

"And finally, we discussed Guatemala's strong desire to seek Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for members of the Guatemalan diaspora in the U.S., a position AJC has long supported as part of its pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform."

Harris was joined by the director of AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute, Dina Siegel Vann, and several members of its Board of Trustees, including Tom Kahn, the Board's chair; Mario Fleck, Board member and current president of the Jewish Federation of Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Jean-Claude Kahn, Board member and president of the Jewish community of El Salvador.

AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute was founded in 2005.  Based in Washington, D.C., the institute seeks enhanced ties among Jews and Latinos in the U.S. and among the U.S., Latin American nations, and Israel.

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