Last Updated: Tue Jun 26, 2012 00:03 am (KSA) 21:03 pm (GMT)

Russia’s Putin shows no sign of conceding to Israeli hopes on Iran, Syria

President Shimon Peres (R) urged visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin to take steps to avert the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and to stop the bloodshed in Syria. (Reuters)
President Shimon Peres (R) urged visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin to take steps to avert the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and to stop the bloodshed in Syria. (Reuters)

Israel urged the visiting Russian president on Monday to step up pressure on Iran to curb its suspect nuclear program but there was no sign of any concessions from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Israeli president Shimon Peres urged Putin to play a bigger role in the region and specifically to use his influence with Tehran to dampen what Israel and much of the international community say are Iran’s nuclear arms ambitions.

“I ask as a personal request that you make your voice heard against a nuclear Iran, against genocide,” Peres told Putin after talks, according to AFP news agency.

On the topic of Iran’s contested nuclear threat, Netanyahu warned that Iranian nuclear weapons pose “a severe danger, first and foremost to Israel, but also to the region and entire world.”

Israel, which is widely believed to have the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal, has said Iran’s program poses an existential threat and has warned it reserves the right to use all means necessary to respond, including military.

The P5+1 group – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany – has agreed to another round of discussions in Istanbul on July 3 on the perceived Iranian threat, but Israel has warned that lengthy talks give Iran time to continue uranium enrichment.

Syria

On the topic of Syria, Peres also discussed foreign interference in Syria during Putin’s trip, which is seen as a Kremlin diplomatic mission as world powers scramble for a solution to the Syria and Iran crises.

“From the very beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, Russia has been persuading its partners that democratic changes should take place in a civilized manner and without external intervention,” Putin said after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his first visit to the country since 2005.

Violence in Syria has killed more than 14,000 people since the Syrian government launched a crackdown on anti-regime protests which began in mid-March 2011.

Putin’s strident rhetoric and a flat-out refusal to support sanctions against Moscow’s Soviet-era ally Syria have pitted him against the West.

Russia is pushing for an international Syria conference and has already discussed the plan with Jordan as well as the European Union, Iran and Iraq.

During the Russian-Israeli meeting, Peres warned of “a real danger that Syrian chemical weapons will reach the hands of Hezbollah and al-Qaeda; please act with urgency to stop that unacceptable situation.”

“I am confident that Russia, which defeated fascism, will not allow today’s threats to continue. Not the Iranian threat. Not the bloodshed in Syria,” Peres said earlier in the resort town of Netanya where he and Putin unveiled a World War II monument.

Putin stressed that all disputes should be resolved on the basis of international law. “We think it is unacceptable according to international law to think of mutual destruction, regardless of who is voicing such threats,” he said in comments translated into Hebrew, according to AFP.

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