President Shimon Peres reaffirmed Wednesday that he has no intention of running for office in the coming Israeli elections.

“I thank those people who support and put their confidence in me, but I’m already serving the people and the country, and have been doing so for the past five years,” Peres said to journalists during a visit to the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, where he received an honorary professorship. “I will continue to fill that role for as long as necessary.”

Peres, who is in Russia on an official visit, was scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday to discuss state matters and especially Iran’s nuclear program.

Ever since new elections were announced in Israel, persistent rumors have been suggesting that Peres is thinking of returning to party politics. Peres, 89, whose term as president will end in 2014, has flatly denied all such reports.

Aides to Peres said this week that politicians from various centrist parties have asked him to return to politics as the leaser of a dovish bloc. Peres is seen as one of the few figures capable of challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January’s parliamentary elections.

Peres served twice as prime minister, from September 1984 until October 1986, and again from November 1995 to June 1996. In 2007, he was sworn in as Israel’s ninth president.

AP contributed to this report.