President Shimon Peres offered holiday wishes in honor of Nowruz, the Persian new year which begins Thursday night, calling for a joint future of peace and cooperation.

In addition, Peres conducted interviews with Israel Radio’s Persian-language station and Radio Farda, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Persian-language station.

“Iraniane Gerami, Novruzetan Piruz Bad,” Peres said, invoking the traditional Persian greeting, which means, “Iranian citizens, wherever you are, have a blessed Nowruz.”

“The Jewish people and the Persian people, the Iranian people have a very long history and we’re going to have a long future,” Peres continued. “We are old cultures, we learn history, we make history and we respect history. We have a heritage of values; we are not just business peoples but two nations that respect culture, that respect human dignity. We call to live in peace and understanding.

“Let us have a year of science and of peace, without war and threats. Happy Nowruz.”

Peres also expressed optimism for renewed relations between Israel and Iran, cut off in the wake of the 1979 revolution that brought the current regime to power.

President Shimon Peres conducts an interview with a Farsi language radio station in honor of the Nowruz holiday (photo credit: Courtesy/ President's Spokesperson's Office)

President Shimon Peres conducts an interview with a Farsi language radio station in honor of the Nowruz holiday (photo credit: Courtesy/ President’s Spokesperson’s Office)

“I think Israel will become the contributing member of the Middle East, I think our children and Arab children, Druze, Christians, everybody will go to the same universities and their major challenge will be the new ideas, the new discoveries. I do believe that the young generation of Iran, like the young generation all over the world, will choose to live in peace, in cooperation. Instead of fighting, let’s compete in scientific endeavor. In competition everybody wins, in war everybody loses.”

Nowruz is a Persian, pre-Islamic holiday that marks the beginning of pring. It is celebrated across central Asia, by Persians, Kurds, Azeris, Turkomen, and others.