TODAY   |  June 12, 2012

Peres on Syria: Future without Assad is ‘better’

In an exclusive interview, Israeli president Shimon Peres speaks with TODAY”s Ann Curry about the turmoil in Syria and his nation’s ongoing friction with neighboring Iran.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> 8:51, the tragedy in syria drawing comment from president perez. we sat down with an interview. we began by talking about the ongoing atrocities and if he thinks the president of syria , president al- assad , time to leave office.

>> okay, president assad removed, what's the alternative. whatever may happen will be better than what it is now. i think the best maybe thing that may happen is the arabs will take responsibility of it. let them handle it. some will say foreign are intervening.

>> you think the arab league will take responsibility for removing president assad .

>> for stopping the meltdown, removing president assad . he's a murderer. he brings shame upon his people.

>> if the arab league does not remove president assad , will israel participate in helping remove president assad .

>> israel may help. our intervention may be perceived as the wrong intervention even from their point of view. we must be very careful not to make it an israeli issue. the best alternative is arabs will do it themselves.

>> what is your message to russia and china, both ofhich have been moving to block u.s. efforts?

>> i don't believe that russia or china can or should see in assad an existing alternative, because he already killed so many people. no country, china, russia , anybody else, can remain indifferent to this revolt against humanity.

>> in a week's time in moscow, there will be a new round of very important talks about iran . what is the tipping point that might cause israel to act militarily against iran ?

>> you don't have to tell what they are going to do forever today , agrees with the united states completely. in order to stop iran from becoming nuclear, let's start with economic sanctions . but if you say it is just economic sanctions , they don't stand a chance to become successful. emphasizing that it is two steps, not one.

>> but what would cause the other option to kick into gear.

>> the sheer existence of the other option is a message. you say all the options are on the table. everybody understands all the options.

>> would israel ever conceivably attack iran without the united states approval?

>> i don't think we have to make a list before things are happening how it will happen. it's unnecessary. maybe the united states will decide about their actions, too. right now the position is clear. the message to iran , stop it.

>> by the way, president perez in new york this week to receive the presidential medal of freedom from president obama .