Peres in Message to Syria: Israel Does Not Want War

President relays message to Assad via Russian President Medvedev who is expected to visit Damascus Monday.

President Shimon Peres issued a message to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad on Sunday stressing that Israel was not interested in confrontation with Syria, nor did Israel intend to escalate tensions along its shared border with Syria.

Shimon Peres and Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow
Ina Osdetchy

Peres made the remarks during a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is expected to visit Damascus on Monday. Peres met with Medvedev in Moscow, where he is representing Israel at the ceremony marking 65 years since the defeat of the Nazis, held at Moscow's Red Square.

Peres told his Russian counterpart that Israel is headed toward peace with Syria, given that Syria quit supporting terror and smuggling weapons. "Israel won't allow [Syria] to have their cake and eat it too – they can't have both the Golan Heights and Iranian missiles," he said. "We are watching the transfers of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah with eyes wide open," he continued, "and the only possible meaning of this is that Syria is trying to escalate the tensions along the border."

Peres recently accused Syria of transferring Scud missiles to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Syria denies arming the Shiite militants.

Peres and Medvedev also discussed the advancement of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the bolstering of strategic ties between Israel and Russia.

While in Moscow, President Peres also sat down with Chinese President Hu Jintao, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Kazakhstan , Azerbaijan and Croatia.

During his meeting with Jintao, Peres said that he cherishes the country's warm relationship with China and that Israel has high hopes that China will be able to "restrain" Iran's nuclear ambitions. He said that Iran is an extreme negative and dangerous element in the Middle East, which bases its policy on a scorched earth mentality, terror and war. Peres added that Israel promotes peace and hopes that soon the peace process with the Palestinians will result in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.