Israeli President Shimon Peres
Credits: REUTERS/PHIL MCCARTEN
OTTAWA - Israeli President Shimon Peres is expected to use his state visit to Canada this week to caution against a pre-emptive military strike against Iran and its nuclear facilities.
Peres says that while Iran is a serious threat to the world - not just to Israel, the region and the US - military action should not precede renewed diplomatic and economic pressure to convince the tyrannical regime to change and allow outside inspection and verification of its nuclear capability.
Unlike Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline support of military intervention, Peres said in reported comments on the weekend that bombing Iran would only temporarily hobble the country, but not the threat.
"Say if somebody wants to attack Iran - that's good, but what will happen after the attack?" the Nobel Peace Prize recipient told the Globe and Mail.
"Some people say it will make Iran powerless for two or three years. That's not good enough."
Peres is scheduled to land in Ottawa on Sunday night for a five-day trip to strengthen ties between the two countries, meet federal and provincial leaders and dignitaries, and promote economic ties.
In Ottawa, he'll be feted by his Canadian equivalent, Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, including a state dinner Monday night.
He'll meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and other senior members of government to discuss issues in the region, including the Arab Spring, Iran and Middle East peace initiatives.
"We will discuss regional issues, including security," a government source said. "Canada and Israel are also looking to expand ties with respect to trade and innovation - particularly in the areas of science and
Peres will also partake in the custom of planting a tree to commemorate the visit on the grounds of the Governor General's official residence - an eastern white pine, called the Tree of Peace by the Iroquois.
His visit will take him to Toronto to meet Premier Dalton McGuinty and Jewish leaders, and Montreal for the same with Premier Jean Charest.
His itinerary also includes a stop Thursday at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in Montreal - the largest and oldest synagogue in Canada, built In 1846.
In a speech last week in Washington to the American Jewish Congress, Baird said Israel "has no greater friend in the world than Canada" and that Israel's "right to exist is non-negotiable."