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Mitt Romney hits back at Russian president

28 march 2012, 18:57
Mitt Romney. ©AFP
Mitt Romney. ©AFP
Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney's camp hit back Tuesday at Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, saying he clearly favors Democrat Barack Obama but backpedaling on a claim that Moscow is Washington's top foe, AFP reports.

In the latest tit-for-tat in an exchange triggered by President Obama's remarks to Medvedev overheard on a live microphone, Romney's campaign also lambasted what they called the Russian government's "creeping authoritarianism."

The comments by a senior Romney aide came after Medvedev told the former Massachusetts governor to use his head and stop reverting to Cold War stereotypes.

Medvedev's comments were triggered by remarks Monday from Romney, who accusing Moscow of being America's "number one geopolitical foe" -- raising eyebrows from critics who give that honor to Al Qaeda, North Korea or Iran.

"President Medvedev's comments about Governor Romney make it evident that the Kremlin would prefer to continue doing business with the current incumbent of the White House," Romney's policy director Lanhee Chen said Tuesday.

Referring to the "reset" strategy Obama has tried to implement to begin a fresh chapter in relations with Moscow "it is not hard to understand why," he said.

"In contrast to President Obama, Governor Romney is clear-eyed about the geopolitical challenges Russia poses.

"Russia's nuclear arsenal, its energy resources, it geographic position astride Europe and Asia, the veto it wields on the UN Security Council and the creeping authoritarianism of its government make Russia a unique geopolitical problem," Chen said.

The spat started when Obama was overheard asking Medvedev at a summit in Seoul to give him more time on the controversial issue of a US missile defense deal, saying he would have more flexibility once he was re-elected after the November vote.

Romney jumped in with his criticism, and on Tuesday Medvedev lashed back, criticizing him for using out-of-date Hollywood stereotypes about Russia.

Romney, who hopes to be the Republican Party's presidential nominee and face Democrat Obama, would be in the White House in January if he wins the November 6 presidential election.

"I recommend that all US presidential candidates, including the candidate you mention (Romney), do at least two things," Medvedev told Russian reporters on the sidelines of a nuclear security conference in Seoul.

"That they use their head and consult their reason when they formulate their positions, and that they check the time -- it is now 2012, not the mid-1970s," the outgoing Russian president said in comments broadcast on state television.

"As for ideological cliches, I always get nervous when one side or the other starts using phrases such as 'enemy number one' and so on," Medvedev added.

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