Peres offers New Year wishes to Iranians

In Nowruz festival interview, president plays down threat: We've been hearing threats for 4,000 years.

peres 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
peres 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
President Shimon Peres issued an audio greeting to the Iranian people Friday afternoon, urging them to shake off the rule of "an oppressive and fanatical regime" and return to relations of peace and harmony with Israel, which, he recalled, the two countries enjoyed when the Shah was in power, until 1979. He called on the "noble Iranian people" to eschew the rhetoric of hate and even offered a greeting for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, in Persian. Israel Radio, which operates a channel in Persian, aired the message, also conducting an interview with Peres, in which he recalled a visit to Iran in the 1970s. He recounted his visits to Iranian military bases and praised the "gracious" demeanor of the Shah. Peres heaped praise on the Iranian people and expressed his belief that they would eventually topple the regime because "leaders who do not serve their constituents are eventually removed." He dismissed the apparent hordes of supporters seen in televised speeches given by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "sycophants or people who are afraid [of the regime]." Regarding the future of relations between Israel and Iran, Peres replied he was more interested in "relations between Iran and itself. They will not destroy us. They will only destroy themselves [if they continue on their current path]." Alluding to several vitriolic speeches Ahmadinejad made against the Jewish state, a relaxed-sounding president said "so we hear another speech and another speech... we have been hearing these speeches for 4,000 years."