Romney 'can't imagine' shunning Netanyahu

Sept. 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney Wednesday said he "can't imagine ever saying no" to a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Romney's comment was in response to reports President Obama refused a face-to-face meeting with Netanyahu, talking to him by phone Tuesday night about Iran's nuclear enrichment program, CNN said.

Campaigning in Jacksonville, Florida, Romney said he was dismayed the administration allegedly turned down a request by Netanyahu to meet with the president saying, "I can't imagine ever saying no [to meeting Netanyahu]. They're our friends. They're our closest allies in the Middle East."

Romney also criticized Obama for what he said was showing sympathy for the attackers who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in an overnight attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The White Tuesday said in a statement Tuesday Netanyahu had not requested a meeting and no meeting had been refused. The Israeli leader is scheduled to visit New York later this month to address the U.N. General Assembly, CNN reported.

Obama and Netanyahu spoke Tuesday night about stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, the White House said.

The leaders also discussed their "close cooperation" in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

The call came after Netanyahu said the Obama administration had no "moral right" to restrain Israel from taking unilateral military action against Iran if the White House refused to set clear "red lines" on Iran's nuclear progress that would prompt a U.S. military strike.

"Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday Washington was "not setting deadlines" beyond which it would turn to military action.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland added Monday it was "not useful" to be "setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines."

Washington says it has no firm evidence Iran has decided to build a bomb. Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

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