Peres Urges Russia to Cease Sale of Advanced Weapons to Syria

In meeting on sidelines of event in Italy, President tells Russian counterpart that weapons systems likely to find their way to terror groups such as Hezbollah.

According to a statement released by the president's office, Peres discussed ongoing turmoil in the Arab world with the Russian leaders, saying that Syria was undergoing a critical time of change.

"Assad has killed thousands of protesters in cold blood and I do not know what the future may hold," Peres said.

Shimon Peres and Dmitry Medvedev - GPO

In the face of such uncertainty, Peres urged his Russian counterpart to avoid selling advanced weapons systems to Syria, since "there was no way to know who would eventually hold those weapons," the president said, adding Russia must aid in stemming the flow of weapons from Syria to "terrorist groups, first and foremost Hezbollah."

Speaking of the Mideast peace process, Medvedev told Peres that Russia fully supported the principles presented in U.S. President Barack Obama's Mideast policy speech, adding that Russia, like many other nations around the world, was concerned with Israel's settlement expansion activities.

In response, Peres said that a change in Hamas' policies and conduct, and their renouncement of terror, would lead toward a positive and creative direction.

Earlier Thursday, Peres called for the creation of a missile defense system that would surround Iran, in an interview with Israel Radio.

The United States, NATO and countries in the region must join forces, Peres said in the interview, adding that all countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are under Iranian missile threat.

The president explained that Israel has a short-range missile defense system, whereas the United States has a long-range missile defense system. Therefore, he told Israel Radio, a medium-range system must be implemented to deal with Iran.