Peres - GPO
President Shimon Peres. Photo by GPO
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President Shimon Peres sent greetings for the Persian new year to the Iranian people yesterday, urging them to "replace the corrupt regime and return to your glorious Persian heritage, a heritage of culture and values, not of bombs and missiles." Speaking first in Farsi and then in Hebrew, Peres also urged Iranian leaders not to threaten anyone or make their "children flee home," an apparent reference to the possibility of war.

The greeting for Nowruz, the Iranian new year that is celebrated today, was broadcast over Israel Radio's Farsi service, which is popular in Iran.

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Peres opened his greeting in Farsi, wishing Iranians wherever they may be a happy Nowruz. "I wish the Iranian people a real, true holiday, in which they may taste freedom, dignity and human honor," he said. "It is not too late to replace the corrupt regime and return to your glorious Persian heritage, a heritage of culture and values, not of bombs and missiles.

"At times I ask myself how such a civilized nation, with such a rich history, has allowed such a radical, blind and hate-filled group to dishonor its historic legacy. How does a people permit a regime to sow fear, rob people of their freedom and horrify the younger generation, which is looking for a way out of dictatorial Iran?" Peres asked.

"Iran, once loved by many countries worldwide, has turned the whole world against it ... The Iranian regime puts all its money into its nuclear [program], abandoning its people to wallow in poverty and hunger. Enriched uranium cannot feed the hungry," he concluded.