Israel welcomes the initiative of the EU to intensify sanctions against Iran, President Shimon Peres told Prime Minister Mario Monti in Italy on Sunday.

The two men were holding a working session within the framework of the annual International Ambrosetti Economic Forum at Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi briefed Peres on Rome’s position on Iran. Terzi visited Israel last week before the president’s departure for Italy.

Monti told Peres that Italy was duty bound to prevent Iran from building its nuclear arsenal.

The two leaders agreed that every possible non-military pressure tactic should be exerted on Tehran with the aim of persuading its government to backtrack on its nuclear project, but if all options failed, a military solution should remain on the table.

Peres said he was glad to see that Italy was part of the troika (together with Germany and France), which was leading the EU toward the imposition of tougher sanctions against Iran.

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Peres emphasized the importance of a united front in battling the Iranian nuclear threat. He also discussed with Monti the dramatic move on Friday by Canada in severing diplomatic relations with Iran, and said that in addition to such steps severe economic pressure should be placed on the Islamic Republic in the oil and banking sectors.

Peres and Monti are longtime friends with a strong mutual respect. Peres particularly admires Monti’s savvy in the field of economics.

He congratulated Monti on initiatives that he had undertaken within the EU and for the future of Italy, and voiced the hope that Europe would soon emerge from its economic crisis. Monti said that there were already faint signs of recovery.

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