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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel's Perez Drops In on Solzhenitsyn to Swap Ideas

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres briefly forgot Israel's fraught ties with the Palestinians, dropping in Monday on fellow Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn for a chat on culture and the plight of mankind.

Peres was in Moscow meeting with President Vladimir Putin and other top officials to get support in the Mideast peace process.

But Peres also met the author of "One Day in the Llife of Ivan Denisovich" and "Gulag Archipelago" at Solzhenitsyn's home outside Moscow.

Peres' eyes and face lit up at the chance to discuss his encounter with one of the literary giants of the 20th century. Solzhenitsyn told the Israeli foreign minister he was planning a new book on Jewish-Russian relations.

Peres, born in Belarus in 1923 before emigrating to Palestine with his family when aged 11, said he did not altogether share Solzhenitsyn's pessimistic view of mankind or his bleak vision of the future.

"He feels the world is becoming more terrible, not a better place to live in and we have to return to the Lord, to the soil, to culture," Peres said.

Solzhenitsyn believes that if civilization is about how we lead our lives, culture gives life its meaning and raises mankind above killing and discrimination. But the chagrined writer says culture is in decline.

"He said we are becoming consumers, not necessarily producers of culture," Peres said. "I told him I'm not sure I share [his pessimistic view].

"I told him when I look back history is written with red ink because the source of human existence was the land, and people fought for land to defend it and expand it.

"Today, our existence and progress is no longer dependent on the land but on science, and science doesn't have history, or geography or hatred."

Aides say Peres has maintained a keen interest in literature despite a political career covering four decades, including spells as Israel's defense, foreign and prime minister.

"He told me to my great surprise that he was contemplating writing a book about the relations between the Jews and the Russians," Peres said.