Iran’s controversial nuclear program was at the center of a meeting on Sunday between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Shimon Peres.
During the meeting, which took place at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, Romney told Peres, “I came today to the president’s residence in Jerusalem to hear from you and learn from you. I want to emphasize that both political parties in the United States have a deep commitment to Israel, its security, the dangers which threaten it, and especially the attempts by Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We all understand what a nuclear Iran means to Israel, we oppose it and we're all concerned about it.”
The two discussed the efforts to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear bomb, and Peres emphasized that he welcomes “the activities of the global coalition against a nuclear Iran. The coalition led by the United States is correct when it applies broad political and economic sanctions while at the same time emphasizing that all options are on the table.”
Romney responded by saying, “Like you we are concerned about Iran developing nuclear capability and feel that it is inconceivable that Iran will become a nuclear armed nation. The threat this would have against Israel, the region and the world is unacceptable.”
The two discussed ways to promote the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, with Romney saying he supports a solution of two states for two peoples but emphasizing that Hamas is not part of this equation. “We must do everything to strengthen the peace between Israel and the Palestinians and between Israel and its neighbors,” he said.
Peres said, “We must promote peace negotiations. The sooner the better, the more we delay the start of peace negotiations, the more difficult the conditions will be.” He added that it is important that Israel maintain its relations with Egypt, even under new Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
Romney said he hoped that the world would ensure that the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt will be maintained, adding that “Israel is a living example of a ‘Start Up Nation’ and there is no reason not to expand the cooperation with its neighbors and especially with Egypt.”
Finally, the two discussed the ongoing fighting in Syria and Israel’s concern that Syria’s chemical weapons will end up in the wrong hands.
“Like you we are concerned about the tragedy taking place in Syria and see how the dictator in Damascus commits atrocities against his people,” said Romney. “We want to find a way to peace that will lead to stability and representation of the majority and minority in the Syrian government. We are also concerned about the chemical weapons in Syria in light of the chaos and instability in the country. It is very dangerous. I believe that Assad will not be able to stay in power forever. The United States is also watching Syria.”