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      Romney Tests US Presidential Race Prospects in Jerusalem

      Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, old Netanyahu acquaintance, first potential presidential candidate to arrive in Israel on the campaign
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 1/16/2011, 1:28 PM / Last Update: 1/16/2011, 3:13 PM

      Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is in the region, the first potential presidential candidate to arrive on the campaign trail for the U.S. national elections of 2012.

      The GOP hopeful, who has not yet formally declared his candidacy, met last week in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The two are well acquainted, according to a Politico.com report: they worked together as consultants for the Boston Consulting Group early in their careers.

      Last Thursday, the two men discussed “a series of issues, including advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, which will be based on security,” according to the Prime Minister's Office.

      Also discussed was “the challenge to the international community posed by the Iranian nuclear program,” a PMO statement said.

      This is not Romney's first run for president; he made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in 2008.

      The former governor is clearly working to beef up his foreign relations credentials this time around. Adviser Eric Fernstrohm told the Boston Globe last week, “The purpose of the trip is not to conduct private diplomacy but to give Governor Romney a first-hand look at what is happening in an important region of the world.”

      He met with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. General David Petraeus in Afghanistan prior to his arrival in Jerusalem and was planning to visit Jordan and the United Arab Emirates after Israel. Romney's aides were cagey about the length of his stay, leaving the options open for additional visits in the region. The cost of the former governor's visit to Israel was covered by AIPAC.