(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres conducted a work meeting this afternoon (Wednesday, 24 October 2012) with the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton. The meeting took place at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Speaking about the current situation in southern Israel. President Peres said, "You are here during a terrible situation. Right now as we are sitting there are a million people, mothers and children, are 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. In my eyes 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."
With regard to the Iranian nuclear threat President Peres said, "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."
Baroness Ashton thanked President Peres and said that in her view bloodshed is the worst option and cooperation and negotiations are preferable. Speaking about the Iranian issue Baroness Ashton told President Peres that Iran is central to the foreign policy agenda of the European Union and that she will continue with the two track approach of keeping up pressure on Iran to persuade the leadership to enter into talks alongside the global coalition. Baroness Ashton added that she saw the issue as central to the security of the region and the entire world.