President Shimon Peres, during his visit to Italy, held a diplomatic working meeting (30 April 2013) with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who took office two days ago. The two discussed the economic solution in Italy and ways out of the current crisis, the Iranian nuclear threat, the ongoing crisis in Syria and the situation in Lebanon, ways to progress the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and strengthening the cooperation between Israel and Italy.
Meeting of President Peres with Italian PM Letta in Rome
(Photo: GPO / Kobi Gideon)
Prime Minister Letta began by thanking President Peres for his visit and saying he was happy to host him in a first diplomatic meeting between the two and expressed his hope that he would be able to visit Israel soon. Prime Minister Letta told President Peres that he planned to lead a pro-European government and that he would meet with the leaders of Europe and enter into dialogue with them with the aim of strengthening the cooperation between Italy and the European Union. Prime Minister Letta added that he was facing difficult economic circumstances and low public approval of the political system in Italy. The Prime Minister concluded by saying that he attached great importance to the good relations between Israel and Italy and that in the second half of 2013 he will invite Israel's government ministers to a joint meeting in Rome.
President Peres congratulated Mr. Letta on becoming Prime Minister and said, "Don't be overly concerned with the economic crisis, I am sure that under your leadership, with your experience and wisdom, you will succeed in navigating Italy out of the current crisis and that economic growth and prosperity will return. Italy is blessed with good people, quality industry and creativity – all this will help Italy out of the current crisis." President Peres discussed with Prime Minister Letta the steps his government took when Israel was faced with an economic crisis during the 1980s which included inflation of over 400% and stressed the importance of investment in science, advanced technology and joint research projects between countries. President Peres added that Israel sees great importance in the relations with Italy and that trade between the countries this year had reached $4.2 billion.
President Peres also discussed the Iranian attempts to develop nuclear weapons, the fact that Iran is an obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East. President Peres told Prime Minister Letta that nuclear weapons in Iranian hands would be a clear danger not only to the Middle East but to the entire world including the capitals of Europe. The two also discussed the danger of the transfer of Syrian weapons and President Peres stressed his belief that President Assad is no longer an alternative since he had become a murdered of his own people.
The two leaders also discussed the peace process and President Peres said that the visit of the Foreign Ministers of the Arab League to Washington is positive and provides fresh impetus to progressing the peace process towards the agreed upon solution of two states for two peoples, "The differences between us and the Palestinians are not great, Abu Mazen is a genuine and serious partner for peace and Israel is ready to return to the negotiating table without preconditions so that all the issues which remain open between our two nations can be discussed."
At the end of the meeting the two leaders delivered joint statements to the press which focused on the importance of the continuing and strengthening the excellent relations between Italy and Israel.