May 6, 2009 / 8:18 PM / 10 years ago

Peres won't rule out "other options" against Iran

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday other options remained open if U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran failed to halt its nuclear program.

“Engagement is an attempt to achieve a goal. If this attempt will succeed, OK, but we don’t have to cross out any other options,” Peres said in a speech to Jewish leaders and diplomats in New York.

He did not say what the other options might be but they are generally understood to include military action.

Peres, whose position is largely ceremonial, met U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday and backed his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically on the nuclear issue.

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons but has shrugged off U.S.-led diplomatic pressure aimed at curbing its uranium enrichment, a process with bomb-making potential.

Israeli leaders say they will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran and have suggested they might take military action to prevent that happening.

Peres said he believed Obama and his administration understood a nuclear-armed Iran would be a danger to the whole world. During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama described a nuclear Iran as a “game changer.”

The elder statesman and Nobel peace prize winner was in the United States to lay the groundwork for a visit later this month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads Israel’s new, right-leaning government.

Peres is a longtime supporter of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu has pledged to hold talks with the Palestinians on economic, security and diplomatic issues but has made no public promise to negotiate Palestinian statehood.

Peres played down differences and said: “In my judgement, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is going to make peace.”

Editing by Alan Elsner

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