, NEW YORK, Sep 15 – Republican nominee Mitt Romney urged a tough line on Egypt amid deadly anti-US violence in the region, as his running mate called for greater “moral clarity” in the Obama administration foreign policy.
Romney asserted his position about a need for stronger US leadership in the Middle East, saying Washington ought to tell Cairo it must honor its peace treaty with Israel and protect US facilities if it is to keep receiving US aid.
He and his vice presidential pick Paul Ryan, who trail slightly in national polls and in swing states like Ohio and Florida, have picked away at Obama’s handling of a widening national security crisis that has seen US missions attacked across the Middle East and North Africa, and the US ambassador to Libya, along with three other Americans, killed in Benghazi.
The crisis began in Egypt, where protesters enraged by a film mocking Islam stormed the US embassy in Cairo and shredded the American flag.
“In Egypt, we should make it very clear to maintain a relationship of friendship and alliance and financial support with the United States, Egypt needs to understand it must honor its peace treaty with Israel,” Romney told donors at a breakfast in New York before flying to Ohio for a rally.
Egypt receives about $1.5 billion a year in US military assistance.
“It must also protect the rights of minorities in their nation and… it also must protect the embassies of our nation and other nations,” he said Friday.
Romney toned down his rhetoric on Thursday after his aggressive criticism of the Obama administration’s reaction to the crisis led to several negative headlines and complaints from within his own party that he had made an ill-timed mischaracterization of Obama’s handling of rapidly escalating events.
On Friday Romney’s running mate Ryan led a withering attack on Obama’s foreign policy, which they say has diminished America’s global standing and emboldened extremists.
“Peace, freedom, and civilized values have enemies in this world, as we have been reminded by events in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen,” Ryan told the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington.
“Look across that region today, and what do we see? The slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria. Mobs storming American embassies and consulates. Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon,” Ryan said.
“Israel, our best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration,” he added.
The extremists who conduct the attacks “operate by violence and intimidation,” Ryan said. “And the least equivocation or mixed signal only makes them bolder.”