Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama shoulder the responsibility for the entire human race, Israeli President Shimon Peres said during a meeting with Putin in the Kremlin on Thursday.
Peres, on an official visit to Russia representing Israel at the opening of the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, thanked Russia for helping to defeat Adolf Hitler.
“I think the whole world is deeply indebted to the Russian people for its superhuman efforts to eradicate the Nazi threat,” Peres said, adding he is grateful to Russia “as a citizen of the world, and as a Jew.”
Peres called on Russia to help defuse a possible second Holocaust by stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“On your shoulders and on the shoulders of Obama, who again became president of the United States, lies a heavy responsibility. Whatever disputes there might be, there is a shared responsibility to humanity,” Peres said. “Those who deny the catastrophe might indirectly cause it again.”
Russia, which maintains ties with Iran, has appealed for diplomacy to be used as the only course of action to pull Tehran back from its nuclear program. Israel has maintained that the option of a military strike must remain on the table, though Peres has come out against such action.
Peres reminded Putin of his promise made during a recent trip to Israel to work to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear military capability.
“You also said during a visit to Jerusalem, which is important for Russia to Israel’s security, and that Russia will not allow Iran will get nuclear weapons. Neither we nor you hate Iran. But both of us want to live in a world without a constant threat of destruction,” he said.
Putin in turn, urged Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, currently at a stalemate.
“We share a deep understanding of long-running conflicts, including the Israeli-Arab one, and the only way to overcome it is dialogue,” Putin said. “Russia calls on the parties involved to renew it.”
Peres also appealed to Putin to wield his considerable influence to calm the bloodshed in Syria. Moscow has been seen as protecting the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, though it has pulled back its support somewhat as the civil war has raged on.
“What is happening in Syria is a danger to the Syrian people and the entire Middle East,” Peres said. “Today several shells fired from Syria dropped in Israel. For years, the Syrian border was quiet, and we would like to see it continued and so on.”
Before meeting with Putin, Peres attended the opening of the $60 million Jewish Museum in Moscow, which he called “a masterpiece of art and architecture of broad historic importance.”
Putin said he was sure the new museum would contribute to the ongoing battle against xenophobia and nationalism, and that it will be visited not only by Russian Jews, “but all the citizens of Russia, representatives of all faiths and all ethnic groups.”
The meeting between Putin and Peres was meant to expand bilateral ties in economic and diplomatic matters, which Putin said were developing successfully.
“If earlier there were economic and diplomatic ties between Russia and Israel, today we added science and culture,” Peres said. He also called the Russians “a great people, not only in territory.”