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U.S. Senator to Israeli president: Iran strategic threat

(Xinhua)

10:59, May 02, 2012

Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) meets with U.S. Senator John Kerry (L) in Jerusalem May 1, 2012. (Xinhua/Yin Dongxun)

JERUSALEM, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The United States will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, John Kerry, told Israeli President Shimon Peres in a meeting here on Tuesday.

Calling the Tehran's nuclear program "a strategic and not tactical threat," Kerry said "I hope there is no doubt about President (Barack) Obama's seriousness and commitment that Iran should not have and cannot have a nuclear weapon," Kerry told Peres.

During the meeting, held at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, Peres told Kerry that he was confident of Obama's resolve, and was "convinced" that the American leader would "stand by his commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."

"The president has made it clear that he is not talking about containment he is talking about prevention," Kerry said.

Turning to the turmoil sweeping countries throughout the region, and the stalled peace process with the Palestinians, Peres said that "the following months are critical and we must navigate through this period with care and wisdom."

As for Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas, Peres said he was encouraged by an address the Palestinian leader gave before the Tunisian Parliament on Monday.

Abbas called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his "partner for peace," but demanded Israel to return to negotiations based on accepting all of the PNA's preconditions, including a full settlement freeze, and accepting the pre-1967 war cease-fire lines as a starting point.

"I choose you, Netanyahu," Abbas said. "With whom else can we make peace? You are the Israeli prime minister and I am forced to work with you."

Peres lauded Abbas' statement that "neither side can afford to wait until after the elections as neither side has the control over the situation and developments of the region."

Kerry's next stop is to meet Egyptian leaders in Cairo, according to a President's Office statement.

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