(JERUSALEM) — A top adviser to Mitt Romney said on Sunday that the Republican presidential candidate would “respect” an Israeli decision to use force against Iran, but Romney himself took a softer tone when later discussing Iran.
Romney and his wife Ann arrived in Israel this weekend and he was hoping for a less controversial trip than his visit to London, where his comments about the Olympics angered Brits, including London’s mayor.
The Romneys went to the Western Wall on Sunday where each placed notes in the wall. He will also hold a fundraiser on Monday in Israel, but the focus of his comments Sunday were on foreign policy and Iran.
Romney’s foreign policy adviser Dan Senor said that Romney believes preventing Iran from nuclear capabilities is the “highest national security priority.”
“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability the governor would respect that decision,” Senor said.
Senor later clarified his comment, saying that Romney hopes that diplomacy and sanctions will succeed in halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but added, “Gov. Romney recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself, and that it is right for America to stand with it.”
Romney took a similar, toned down tact when discussing Iran on Sunday.
In a speech Romney gave Sunday evening, he said, “My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country.”
“Make no mistake: The ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way,” Romney said.
In an interview with ABC News, Romney said, “I recognize the right of Israel to defend itself. At the same time as two nations we are both committed to employing every means we have to keep Iran from pursuing nuclear following.”
“Sanctions are beginning to have a greater impact on Iran,” he said. “We want to execute all of these elements, soft power if you will. But we of course maintain all options if our political and economic options were to fail we of course retain military options as well.”
Romney’s trip to Israel is the second stop on his foreign foray and follows a bumpy trip through London where he riled the Brits over his comments about their readiness to put on the Olympic Games.
He will wind up his trip in Poland.
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