Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday said that U.S. President Barack Obama is “a great president and a great friend of Israel,” and that security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is “the best we’ve ever had.”
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In an hour-long interview with American broadcaster Charlie Rose, conducted before a large audience at New York’s 92nd Street Y, Peres said that he does not want to interfere in American politics, but he is stating his opinion on Obama “because it’s true,” adding that he has “the highest respect” for Obama for overseeing the current relationship between the two countries.
Peres said that the meeting next week between Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “important” and that he is confident that the two leaders “will reach an agreement” on Iran.
Peres declined to deny the Haaretz report that he himself will tell Obama in their meeting Sunday that he is opposed to an attack on Iran, but did say that he supports the formula that “all options are on the table.” Otherwise, he said, Iran will not take the world’s efforts to curtail its nuclear program seriously.
Iran is “morally corrupt” and “the center of terror in our time,” the president said, adding that to describe the Iranian leadership as “rational” is “very generous.”
Peres also said that he meets with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salim Fayad and that in his opinion Israel and the Palestinians “agree on almost everything. The differences are mainly psychological.”
Peres said that Netanyahu is well aware of the risks he needs to take in order to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. He said that Netanyahu is restrained by his coalition, and that in his opinion, the prime minister would be better off with a different coalition than the one he has now.
Last week, Haaretz reported that Peres will tell Obama that he objects to an Israeli attack on Iran in their scheduled meeting during the upcoming AIPAC conference. Netanyahu is also due to meet with Obama in Washington on March 5.