Peres to be first world leader to meet with new Dutch king

(JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres  is slated to become the first foreign head of state to meet with the new monarch of the Netherlands.

Peres is scheduled to meet King Willem-Alexander on Monday and deliver a speech at the Dutch parliament. He began his three-day visit to the Netherlands on Sunday.

A day ahead of his arrival, Peres told the Dutch daily Telegraaf that he valued the 46-year-old king for his “commitment to peace and friendship with Israel.” He also said the international community should pressure Iran for “clarifications” concerning its nuclear program.

Peres and Willem-Alexander, who in April replaced his mother, Beatrix, on the throne, met years ago when both sat on a committee on resolving the water problem in the Middle East, Peres told the daily.

On Sunday, Peres kicked off his Netherlands visit with a meeting with the heads of the Dutch Jewish community at the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, where he spoke to several hundred guests from the community.

“No matter how wars or animosities threaten us, we shall always be a people of peace,” he said at the synagogue during an open interview with Esther Voet, a Dutch Jewish journalist and director of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel. “We shall always remember that the essence of the Torah is ‘you should love your friend as you love yourself.’ I think this is the mission that should guide us in future.”

On Iran, Peres said in the interview for De Telegraaf, “[Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani says Iran does not want a nuclear bomb. But why, then, does it spend so much money on rockets that can deliver such a bomb? These contradictions need to be clarified.”

Tehran has stoked expectations of change in its foreign policy by saying it is ready to show “flexibility” and by releasing political prisoners jailed during the eight-year term of hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom Rouhani replaced in August.