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Israeli President Shimon Peres: Hezbollah is 'main killer' in Syria

By CNN Staff
January 24, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Israeli President Shimon Peres says Hezbollah responsible for much Syrian carnage
  • He says the deal to curb Iran's nuclear program is crucial
  • Despite tensions, he says he would still be prepared to meet with Rouhani

Editor's note: CNN is at Davos and will bring you breaking news, analysis and insight from January 20 to January 25. Join CNN anchors Richard Quest, John Defterios and Nina dos Santos as they ask the world's political and economic leaders what we can expect in 2014. Follow our team on the ground and see complete coverage here.

(CNN) -- Israel's President Shimon Peres has pointed a finger at Iran over the carnage in Syria, labeling the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah as "the main killer" in the war-ravaged country.

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Speaking to CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Peres questioned the authenticity of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's stated desire for peace in Syria, given its support for the militia.

"The President (Rouhani) spoke really movingly about Syria, about the killing of the dead," he said. "But who's killing? The main killer today in Syria is Hezbollah -- who is supporting Hezbollah, who is financing Hezbollah, who is sending them out?"

Earlier at Davos, Rouhani had urged an end to the Syrian conflict, arguing that elections were the key to resolving the issue.

READ MORE: Rouhani: 'Sanctions against Iran are illegal'

Peres was also asked whether the United States and other powers were being "pulled along in a game" in relation to a landmark deal intended to curb Iran's nuclear program, following the Iranian Foreign Minister's recent comments that the Obama administration had mischaracterized the Islamic republic's concessions.

"No," replied Peres. "I say they have difficulties too, but I think President Obama is serious about (the deal), because he knows the outcome if they were to stop it at the moment. It may turn the Middle East into a nuclear region. It's (already) complicated (enough)."

Despite the tensions between Israel and Iran, Peres said he was still open to meeting with Rouhani should the opportunity arise.

"The Iranians are not our enemies historically. We don't have a joint border -- I don't see any reason why we should have a conflict," he said.

"The problem with Rouhani is his positions... But if he really (does) what they (say they will do), why not?"

OPINION: Rouhani 'must avoid getting wings clipped'

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