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India cannot stay neutral towards Iran: Peres

India cannot stay neutral towards Iran: Peres

Jerusalem: Describing Iran as a "danger" to world peace, Israeli President Shimon Peres has asked India not to remain "neutral" to Iran's "aggressive attempt" to become a forceful hegemon in the region.

"Iran is a great danger. They have emerged as a danger to the rest of the world and they have mobilised the world against them, not just us," Peres said in an interview.

On India's proximity to Iran, the 89-year-old Israeli leader said that he does not know "what are exactly the Indian considerations in that case because India has her own problems with nuclear capacities", which are not "simple".

Describing India as a land historically based on values and Gandhi as a prophet who preached non-violence, the Nobel laureate argued that India cannot stay neutral towards Iran which was threatening the "existence" of other people.

"So I cannot see that a policy of non-violence can be neutral to an aggressive attempt to build a forceful hegemon in the Middle East against the will of its own people," Peres said. The President emphasised that his country was not against the Iranian people but the current regime there was threatening Israel and also trying to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

"We are not against the Iranians, against the Iranian people. Nobody is threatening them but they (current regime) are threatening the existence of other people. What for?" he questioned.

Iran and Israel were close allies until 1979 when the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by Islamic revolutionaries led by Ayatollah Khomeini who then snapped ties with Tel Aviv.

Iran's outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has in the past called upon several times to wipe out Israel from the world map besides denying the occurrence of the Holocaust. "If they would just talk it was one thing. But if in addition they are building nuclear weapons, they are becoming a centre of world terror. They are introducing a sort of dictatorship, executing innocent people, putting to jail journalists", Peres said. Israel has declared Iran's attempt to acquire nuclear capability an "existential threat" warning to foil the attempt "keeping all options on the table".

Iran has maintained that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

Commenting on the ongoing crisis in Syria that has left about 90,000 people dead, Peres said: "It has nothing to do with Israel.

"It is not a clash of civilisations. It is a clash within a civilisation within the Arab world itself. It is a clash between a young generation and an old ideology, a clash between poor and rich, a clash of different streams of religion and between Shi'ites and Sunnites."

When asked whether Israel prefers an old foe that is relatively predictable or a loosely knitted unpredictable grouping of rebels, he said, "I don't think it is a problem or the new grouping would mean anything. It's a new age and I think they will have to enter the new age. I judge history not just by its events but rather by its developments."

On the Palestinian issue, Peres said, "We should be able to overcome it. I see no other solution but a two state solution and that we should live like good neighbours rather than like bad enemies. And we are not far from it." The Israeli President said he considers his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas as "100 per cent" partner in peace.

"I think Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is a man of peace. He is a partner that we can make peace with and the government cannot stop again the call of the realities of our time. And sooner or later all leaders have to refer to the realities because the realities will not be disciplined by the the governments," Peres said as he desired that "peace" would be the perfect gift for his 90th birthday which falls in August.

When asked about post-retirement plans, the veteran politcian said he will continue to serve his people. "To serve my people. I am not born as a ruler or as an administrator. I think there is nothing greater than to serve your people and not expect your people to serve you. I think I can contribute in many areas," he added.


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