President Shimon Peres told Baroness Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on Wednesday: “To stop the bloodshed here and to stop the danger in Iran are the two main calls of our time, for the sake of their people and of ours.”
The meeting was part of a three-day tour of the region by Baroness Ashton, which also included visits to Jordan and Lebanon and is set to end today with a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
In the meeting the two discussed the current issues affecting the Middle East, including the recent escalation in violence along the Gaza border and the Iranian nuclear threat.
On the current fighting, according to a press release from the President’s office, President Peres told Baroness Ashton: “You are here during a terrible situation. Right now as we are sitting there are a million people, mothers and children, sitting in shelters and being bombed. Nobody in Europe, Asia, America or anywhere else would agree to that day after day. We are behaving with a great deal of patience, we don't want to see anyone being killed in Gaza, but no-one in the world could agree to the current situation.”
President Peres also commented on the recent visit of the Emir of Qatar to the Gaza Strip and said: “When the Emir of Qatar comes with lots of money and donates it for construction, we have no problem with that. But Europe must understand that the money isn't being used for construction but rather to fire and to kill.”
On Iran, President Peres praised the latest sanctions, saying: “The latest reports on the sanctions show that they are beginning to show some effect. I think that if the European Union and the USA continue the pressure then you will save not only the Middle East but Iran from its own catastrophe. When I speak against bloodshed I mean Iranian blood as well, I'm against bloodshed no matter where. If we can bring Iran to peace and responsibility it will be a great human achievement, it is far preferable that we do it economically rather than militarily. I think Europe can contribute with its military weight and political influence.”
In response, Baroness Ashton thanked President Peres and agreed with him that cooperation and negotiations were the preferable course of action. Baroness Ashton also added that she saw the issue of Iran as central to the security of the region and the entire world and promised to continue the two track approach of keeping up the pressure on Iran in order to persuade the leadership to enter talks with the global coalition.