Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was warmly received Sunday morning by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who emphasized the need for a credible military threat against Iran.
"You said the greatest danger facing the world is of the ayatollah regime possessing a nuclear capability," Netanyahu told Romney. "Mitt, I couldn't agree with you more."
"All the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota. We need a strong and credible military threat coupled with sanctions" in order to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” said Netanyahu.
At a short press conference before their meeting, Netanyahu mentioned their close personal friendship, stating that it was a pleasure to receive the former Massachusetts governor in Israel.
The Republican hopeful briefly mentioned Iran."Israel's perspective with regards to Iran and its effort to become a nuclear capable nation is one I look to with great seriousness," said Romney.
Romney thanked Netanyahu for his praise, but refrained from making significant policy declarations. Romney spoke of the long friendship between himself and Netanyahu, also noting that he was happy to be able to hear Netanyahu’s positions and learn from them.
Earlier Sunday, however, Romney's senior national security aide Dan Senor told reporters that the Republican presidential candidate would "respect" Israel's decision if it were to "take action on its own in order to stop Iran" from attaining nuclear weapons.
During the meeting, Romney also mentioned the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av, which fell on the day of the meeting, calling the sacrifices and tragedies that befell the Jewish people not just a thing of the past.
Romney meets with Israeli officials in Jerusalem
Romney also mentioned that the relationship between Israel and the United States is not based solely on common interests, but also shared values of democracy, free speech, and human rights.
Romney later met with President Shimon Peres, who emphasized that he is sure that the policies of the Obama administration in regards to the Iranian issue are the right ones.
According to Peres, the U.S. policy is to stop a nuclear Iran through the least dangerous means, but added that all options are on the table.
Peres and Romney also spoke of the peace process with the Palestinians. Romney stated that he supports the two-state solution, but opposes Hamas' involvement in any solution.
Romney also met with opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, who told the Republican nominee that Israel must be alert to all developments regarding Iran, but stating that it is not the right time for a military attack, and that sanctions against the country must be deepened.
Romney was supposed to meet with Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich, although the meeting was cancelled at the last minute. The meeting was planned a month ahead of time, when Yachimovich was still opposition leader. Romney's headquarters called Yachimovich on Sunday morning, approximately two hours before the meeting was slated to take place, to announce that the meeting was cancelled.
Labor MK Yitzhak Herzog condemned Romney's decision, saying that he believes Romney was "purposely misdirected by political elements who fear Yachimovich's growing strength."
Romney was also due to meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman later Sunday.
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