Iran talk dominates Romney agenda in Jerusalem (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON 07/29/12)
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney began his visit in
Jerusalem Sunday morning with a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu who told Romney before the meeting that diplomacy and
sanctions leveled against Iran have not worked so far.
"I heard some of your remarks and you said that the greatest danger
facing the world is the Ayatollah regime possessing nuclear weapons
capability," Netanyahu said. "Mitt, I couldn´t agree with you more,
and I think it is important to do everything in our power to prevent
the ayatollahs from possessing that capability. We have to be honest
and say that all the diplomacy and sanctions and diplomacy so far
have not set back the Iranian program by one iota."
Netanyahu said that a "strong and credible military threat coupled
with sanctions" was needed to "have a chance to change the situation."
Romney said he wanted to hear Netanyahu´s perspective regarding Iran
and about "further actions that we can take to dissuade Iran from
their nuclear folly."
Romney also said he was "honored" to be here on Tisha Be´Av, "to
recognize the solemnity of the day and also the suffering of the
Jewish people over the centuries and the millennia, and come with
recognition of the sacrifices of so many. Unfortunately, the
tragedies of wanton killing are not only things of the past, but have
darkened our skies in even more recent times."
Following his meeting with Netanyahu, Romney met with President
Earlier, a senior Romney aide said the former Massachusetts governor
would back Israel if it were to decide it had to use military force
to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
"If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from
developing that capability, the governor would respect that
decision," Romney´s senior national security aide Dan Senor told
reporters traveling with the candidate.
The comment made ahead of Romney meetings seemed to differ with US
President Barack Obama´s attempts to convince Israel to avoid any
Senor told reporters that Romney believed the threat from Iran was
approaching on a path involving two timelines.
The first was Iran´s drive - denied by Tehran - to develop a nuclear
weapons capability, and the second was having the ability to
penetrate Iran´s defenses before they were hardened in such a way to
protect against a strike, Senor said.
In excepts of a speech Romney was to deliver on Monday evening, the
former Massachusetts governor planned to say that an aggressive
approach to Tehran was needed to protect against a threat to the very
existence of Israel, the closest US ally in the turbulent Middle East.
"When Iran´s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this
nation off the map, only the naďve - or worse - will dismiss it as an
excess of rhetoric," he would say.
"Make no mistake: The ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral
defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the
Netanyahu also spoke of the strength of the US-Israel relationship,
and the importance of continuing to strengthen it. "Your visit is an
expression of that desire in both our people," he said.
Briefly touching upon the tumultuous events in neighboring Egypt and
Syria, Netanyahu told Romney: "I want you to know that in this great
convulsion, there is one stable democratic ally of the United States
in the middle east, and that is Israel."
Following the Netanyahu meeting, Romney will convene with President
Shimon Peres, Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich, Kadima leader Shaul
Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Romney and Netanyahu will meet again later in the day after the Tisha
Be’av fast when he and his wife, Ann, will dine at the Prime
Minister’s Residence with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
Romney’s visit to Israel – his fourth – is widely considered an
effort to woo pro-Israel voters in the US, both Jews and Evangelical
Christians, many of whom are discontent with the Middle East policies
of President Barack Obama.
Romney is slated to leave for Poland at about noon on Monday.
Before taking off, he is scheduled to host a fund-raiser at the King
David Hotel in Jerusalem Monday morning. The event was moved from
Sunday evening to Monday morning so as not to conflict with Tisha
Be’av. The cost to attend the event, where Romney is expected to
appear for 45 minutes, is $50,000 a couple. Reuters contributed to
this report. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/29/12)
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