Aides outline Romney's foreign policy

Sept. 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Senior advisers for Republican U.S. presidential nominee Mitt Romney provided more detail about how foreign policy would look under a Romney administration.

Foreign policy advisers Eliot Cohen and Richard Williamson said Romney would tell Egyptian leaders if they want the $1 billion in debt forgiveness promised earlier this month, they would have to do more to protect U.S. interests in the country, beginning with the U.S. Embassy, scene of demonstrations since Tuesday when its walls were breached by protesters angered over a film made in the United States denigrating the Prophet Muhammad, The New York Times reported Friday.

Romney also would have told Iran it would not be allowed to get close to being able to build a nuclear weapon, the advisers said in response to a Times request for an explanation of how Romney would have addressed what has been a difficult week in the Middle East.

The advisers also said Romney would provide far more aid to factions of the Syrian opposition but would stop short of arming them directly, similar to the current administration's position.

And the United States would have been more involved in the development of a post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya, the advisers said. They did concede it wasn't clear that greater U.S. involvement would have prevented the attack Tuesday on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. diplomats, the Times said.

Cohen and Richardson were far more specific while Romney has spoken more broadly about his foreign policy plans while campaigning

During the past few days, Romney has focused on criticizing Obama for having "apologized" for the United States and projected weakness, suggesting that was the reason for this week's protests in Cairo and elsewhere, and the lethal violence in Libya.

The sharpest foreign policy difference offered by Cohen concerned Iran, the Times said. Obama has said he would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but so far has resisted efforts by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to set a "red line."

Cohen said Romney "would not be content with an Iran one screwdriver's turn away from a nuclear weapon."

Cohen, however, didn't say where the line would be drawn.

"Once they get a weapon, or on the verge of getting it, it's too late," Cohen said.

Cohen and Williamson said President Obama has been too cautious in supporting opposition forces in Syria.

"We are not better off in letting things drift. We have 20,000 dead, and the more it goes on the fewer choices we have," Williamson said.

Cohen told the Times if the United States didn't do more for pro-democracy forces in Syria, "these guys they will turn to whoever can help."

Both stopped short of saying the United States should provide weapons, which an Obama administration official said "sounds a lot like they are endorsing our position."

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