(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres on Tuesday morning, 1 May 2012, met with Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations John Kerry. The two discussed recent developments on the Iranian nuclear issue, the changes in the Middle East and relations between Israel and its neighbors, especially the peace process with the Palestinians.
At the start of the meeting, President Peres spoke about the importance of taking action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that Iran represents a threat to world peace, not just Israel's existence. President Peres said he is convinced that the President of the United States is serious and will stand by his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that he fully relies on his judgment and his leadership.
On the peace process with the Palestinians, President Peres said, "Yesterday, Abu Mazen delivered an impressive and encouraging speech. He stated that neither side can afford to wait until after the elections as neither side has the control over the situation and developments of the region. The following months are critical and we must navigate through this period with care and wisdom."
Senator Kerry told President Peres, "If I can just say to you and to the people of Israel: I hope there is no doubt about President Obama's seriousness and commitment that Iran should not have and cannot have a nuclear weapon. The President has made it clear that he is not talking about containment he is talking about prevention." The President replied that he has complete confidence in US President Obama.
During the meeting, Senator Kerry emphasized that Iran is a strategic, not tactical, issue for the US in the framework of the supreme effort to rid the world of the threat of terrorism, and added that even as negotiations are held, the sanctions against Iran have not ended and will not end.
Regarding Egypt, President Peres welcomed Amr Moussa's remarks to the effect that the peace agreement with Egypt must continue to be upheld, and said that bilateral relations are now being tested. Senator Kerry informed the President that he will visit Egypt immediately after his visit to Israel.
At the end of the meeting, Senator Kerry said that the administration is looking forward to the ceremony next month in which President Obama will award President Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Peres replied that he was completely surprised by President Obama's decision to award him the Medal and added that it is a great honor not only for him but for the entire State of Israel.