Do all roads lead Peres to Rome?

August 5, 2007 22:49
1 minute read.


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Beit Hanassi would neither confirm nor deny on Sunday a Maariv report that President Shimon Peres plans to make his first trip abroad as president in September and visit Rome. The report said that Peres planned to spend four days in Italy, during which he would hold talks with President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Romano Prodi, as well as with Pope Benedict XVI. If Peres were to go to Rome, he would likely participate in an international conference that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa are also expected to attend. Beit Hanassi spokeswoman Ayelet Frish admitted that the matter had been raised, but added that the president had not yet made a decision. Meanwhile, Peres, who celebrated his 84th birthday on Saturday with his family, had a second birthday party Sunday at Beit Hanassi. The second celebration, replete with cake, was by way of a surprise. Representatives of most of the country's youth movements - from haredi to the extreme left - put aside their differences as they came together to wish the nation's most unifying figure a happy birthday. They cheered, sang songs and delivered greetings. There was little doubt that a delighted and beaming Peres was absolutely sincere when he told them that this was the best birthday present that he could have received. Peres, who has great faith in and hope for the generation that is moving out of adolescence, told his young visitors that according to what he saw and heard, each and every one of them would make a good president. "You are the enormous capital of the state of Israel," he told them. "The land was built by young pioneers who were good and dedicated like you." Peres had one piece of advice for his young well-wishers. "Roll up your sleeves and get into politics." He told them to fix what had to be fixed, and to apply themselves with diligence, commitment, a pioneering spirit and clean hands to the tasks that lay ahead. "I call on you to serve the state and to perform great deeds on its behalf," he said. "Each of you can be an example."

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