MOSCOW – The Iranian regime is prepared to perpetrate a new Holocaust, President
Shimon Peres told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on
However, the Israeli president emphasized that the Iranian
people themselves are not Israel’s enemies.
Peres and Putin shared an
almost two-hour tete-a-tete during which bilateral relations were discusses as
well as Iran, Syria and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace
Speaking to Russian and Israeli reporters in the Kremlin
afterward, Peres said he considered Russia a great country not only in terms of
its vast geography, but also because of “the great Russian soul.”
said he had come to Moscow to express his gratitude for the role the Russian
people and the Soviet Red Army played in defeating the Nazis in World War
The Russian people fought bravely and did not stop fighting until
they had helped save the world from “the greatest danger,” he said, noting that
13 million Soviet civilians died in the war.
“I thank Russia as a citizen
of the world, and I thank Russia as a Jew,” Peres told Putin.
to the Iranian threat, a topic the Israeli president has repeatedly emphasized
during his three-day visit to Moscow, Peres said that Russia had played an
important role in history, and must do the same in the future, to prevent Tehran
obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“Neither you nor us hate Iran,” Peres said,
telling Putin that it was the Iranian regime – which has denied the Holocaust –
and not the Iranian people that threatened Israel.
The Israeli president
also discussed the violence in Syria with his Russian counterpart, and called on
Moscow to help bring about a cease-fire in that country.
“The Syrians are
also not our enemies, but what is taking place now in Syria threatens both the
Syrian people and the whole of the Middle East,” Peres said, adding that Syrian
President Bashar Assad’s regime had begun to use “extreme measures” against
“Today, mortar shells from Syria fell in Israeli
For a long time, the border with Syria has been quiet, and we
hope it will continue to be so,” Peres said.
Peres said that Moscow was
in a position to help end the bloodshed in Syria and also to bring peace to the
wider Middle East.
Again returning to the Iranian threat and to the
threat of Palestinian terrorism, Peres said Israel had a duty to defend
“Today I drank wine from 1948, the year the USSR recognized
Ever since then, Israel has lived through seven
We have no option but to defend ourselves and we will continue to
do so whenever necessary,” he told Putin.
With his characteristic wry
humor, the 89-year-old Peres said that he was “hardly the youngest person in the
“You know, with age comes chutzpah,” he told Putin,
“That’s why I permit myself to tell you and [51-year-old US President
Barack] Obama that despite your youth, on your shoulders rests a tremendous
responsibility for the future of this planet.
Peres ended his speech by
saying Putin and Obama could usher in a new era for humanity.
possible to put an end to poverty, enmity and wars,” he said.
called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume dialogue, telling Peres that
negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict.
“We have a mutual
understanding about the need to resolve long-standing conflicts, especially the
Arab Israeli conflict,” Putin said.