Kissinger in Israel, 2008
Kissinger in Israel, 2008Israel news photo: Flash 90

Former U.S Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told ABC News on Wednesday that he “can understand” why Mitt Romney’s initial reaction to the violence in the Middle East was “quite severe.”

“I think that an attack on an American embassy is always a grave matter,” Kissinger said in a telephone interview. “When the attacks take place as a result of an event that’s totally out of the control of the United States government, then it is an outrage against our basic values and we cannot — as a government — apologize for what these people construe as a provocation if our government was in no way involved.”

Kissinger, who has endorsed Romney, added that he can “understand that the first reaction of Governor Romney was quite severe.”

At a news conference in Florida on Wednesday, Romney said it was ”disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo had issued a press release criticizing the anti-Muslim movie that had been released prior to the attacks and which has received a great deal of media attention for allegedly being the cause behind such violent protests.

Kissinger, who served under Presidents Nixon and Ford, said that the Obama administration must now “convey to the governments involved that this is a matter that we take extremely seriously.”

“Speaking entirely for myself, it would be appropriate to recall our ambassadors for consultation so that they see we are looking at it carefully,” he told ABC news.

Romney had invoked Kissinger at a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida saying, “I saw Dr. Kissinger some months ago. I said, ‘Dr Kissinger, how is America perceived today in the world? He said one word, ‘Weak.’ Weak. The world needs American strength.”

Earlier this month, Kissinger co-authored an Op-Ed in the Washington Times with former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, James A. Baker and George P. Shultz in which they endorsed the Republican presidential candidate.

“He has the experience, strategy and temperament to lead a robust economic recovery and rein in the mounting federal debt that threatens our future. And he fully understands that our prosperity at home is inextricably linked to our influence abroad,” they wrote.