Israeli president Reuven Rivlin cuts short Ukraine visit after Shimon Peres death

KIEV (AFP) - Israeli President Reuven Rivlin cut short his visit to Ukraine on Wednesday (Sept 28) following the death of the Jewish state's elder statesman Shimon Peres.

"President Rivlin informed President Poroshenko that he has to interrupt his visit to Ukraine due to the death of Shimon Peres," the Ukrainian leader's spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko tweeted.

The Israeli embassy in Kiev said in statement that Rivlin "will return to Israel during the day".

Rivlin met Poroshenko on Tuesday and was due to attend the 75-year memorial on Thursday of the murder of 34,000 Jews in Kiev's Babi Yar ravine by the Nazis during World War II.

The Israeli president himself was quoted as saying in the embassy statement "that there is not a chapter in Israel's history in which Shimon is not mentioned".

 

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"He held our entire people on the wings of fantasy, on the wings of vision," Rivlin was quoted as saying.

Peres "was the symbol of the great spirit of our people. He forced us to look far into the future and we loved him," Rivlin said.

He added that Peres "forced us to imagine not what once happened and not what is going on right now, but what can be."

The co-founder of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize winner died some two weeks after suffering a major stroke at the age of 93.