JERUSALEM, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Sunday that he would be willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"Iran is not our enemy," Peres said during a question and answers session at the annual Globes Business Conference, which is held on Dec. 8-9 in Tel Aviv.
Israel is widely believed to consider Iran as its sworn enemy and has been lobbying for military action to destroy Iran's alleged nuclear capabilities.
An interim agreement signed last Saturday by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) in Geneva was defined by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "historic mistake." Israel announced that it was not bound by the deal and would keep the military option on the table.
Introducing a different approach to the government's hard-line on Iran, Peres said: "We don't consider Rouhani as an enemy." He added that "enemies are not a matter of people but a matter of policy. The purpose is to convert enemies to friends."
Peres said it remains to be seen whether Rouhani will follow through on his promises to curb the country's nuclear activity. However, he said that Israel, like the U.S., prefer a diplomatic solution. "We also prefer economic or political pressure before anyone begins to shoot. We are not in a hurry to shoot," he said.
Asked about the bad taste left by the blunt Israeli criticism on the U.S. President Barak Obama's line in the negotiations, Peres said that he consider it as a quarrel "within the family." " While there are some disagreements, the relations have basically remained as they were and as they should," Peres said.
The U.S. strong bond with Israel was strained recently over the countries' disagreement on how to approach the diplomatic discourse with Iran, with officials of both nations exchanging attacks on the issue.
The U.S. pushed to reach for an interim agreement and give diplomacy a chance while Netanyahu and his government campaigned worldwide to keep sanctions intact and get more guarantees from Iran that it would not push for nuclear weapons.
U.S. officials criticized Israel's hard-line stance and objection to the talks, and Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as saying that Netanyahu is not fully aware of all the details of the agreement while criticizing it.
On the other hand, hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said recently that Israel should perhaps seek out new allies other than the United States.
PLO official accuses Israel of intending to undermine peace talks
RAMALLAH, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- A Palestinian official on Saturday accused Israel of intending to undermine the peace talks, which have been ongoing under U.S. auspices since July.
"Israel's stubbornness, its predominance in settlement building, unilateral measures and its insistence to impose its security conditions are all aiming at boosting the occupation of the Palestinian land, not making peace," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s Executive Committee. Full story
IAEA inspectors arrive in Tehran for Arak reactor visit
TEHRAN, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- A team of inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived here on Saturday to visit Iran's Arak heavy water reactor, the state IRIB TV reported.
Under a Framework for Cooperation with Iran, signed on Nov. 11 in Tehran, Iran and the Agency agreed "to strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program through the resolution of all outstanding issues," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said earlier. Full story