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Israel president says ready to meet Iran counterpart

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Published : 2013-12-08 21:55
Updated : 2013-12-08 21:55

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday he would be prepared to meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, even though their two countries consider each other arch-enemies.

Asked at an economic forum over a possible meeting, Peres replied: "Why not? I don't have enemies. It's not a question of personalities but of policies.

"The aim is to transform enemies into friends," said the president, whose role in Israel is symbolic and ceremonial.

Peres also recalled that "there was a time that we did not meet, for example, with (Palestinian leader) Yasser Arafat", until his Palestine Liberation Organisation recognised Israel.

"We must concentrate all our efforts on making sure Iran does not become a nuclear danger for the rest of the world," he told journalists.

Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East, a programme of which Peres is considered the father, accuses Iran of working to develop a nuclear bomb, a charge denied by the Islamic republic.

Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, which it does not recognise, while Israel has warned of military action to prevent a nuclear Iran that it says would pose an existential threat.

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