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Romney promises tougher US stance on Russia

31 august 2012, 12:54
0
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and wife Ann wave to supporters. ©AFP
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and wife Ann wave to supporters. ©AFP
White House challenger Mitt Romney promised on Thursday to take a tougher line on Russia if he is elected in November, accusing Barack Obama of lacking backbone in the relationship, AFP reports.

"He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia's President (Vladimir) Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election," Romney said in a speech.

Romney, who was accepting the Republican presidential nomination in a prime-time address to his party's national convention, was referring to a famous slip by Obama at a meeting with then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

In March, the Democratic president was caught out when, not realizing a nearby microphone was live, he told Medvedev he would have more "flexibility" to discuss missile defense disputes if he was re-elected.

Medvedev was recorded saying he would "transmit this information to Vladimir," a reference to Kremlin strongman Putin, who has since replaced his understudy to return as president of Russia.

Obama has tried to laugh off the gaffe, but Romney's camp has portrayed it as evidence that the incumbent is ready to jettison US interests and those of Washington's European allies in order to cut a deal with Moscow.

"Under my administration, our friends will see more loyalty, and Mr Putin will see a little less flexibility and more backbone," Romney said, to cheers from the partisan crowd at the Tampa convention.

"We will honor America's democratic ideals, because a free world is a more peaceful world."

The United States and its NATO allies are striving to develop a missile defense system that could intercept warheads fired towards Europe.

Washington insists the shield is to counter threats from rogue states like Iran, but Moscow sees it as undermining its own nuclear deterrent and fiercely opposes anti-missile sites being built in former satellites like Poland.

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