US President Barack Obama
is likely to visit Israel
should he be elected for a second term, the Obama campaign said Monday.
ABC News quoted Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant defense secretary for Middle East
affairs, as saying that the Republican criticism of Obama for not visiting Israel since taking office was "a distraction from real policy issues."
Obama visited Israel during his 2008 campaign, but has not returned since he took office.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
is expected to visit Israel in late July. Romney's foreign campaign tour will see him visit Britain, Israel, Poland and Germany. Romney
pledged to make Israel his first stop during his first presidential trip abroad, should he be elected.
"We can expect (Obama) to visit Israel in a second term should he be reelected," Kahl said.
Kahl dismissed the criticism against Obama as saying that former President Ronald Reagan
never visited Israel, and that former President George W. Bush only
visited Jerusalem during the final year of his second term, the report said.
"Obviously, Republicans weren't criticizing him for his commitment on Israel as a result of that travel itinerary."
Kahl added that "Being a friend to Israel, at least in our view, shouldn't be judged purely by a travel itinerary."
Talking to reporters, Kahl also said it was time for Romney – who in the past accused Obama of demonstration trepidation on the subject of the Iranian threat – to "spell out his strategy for handling the stand-off over Iran's suspect nuclear program."
"The American people I think expect him to outline a plan to pressure Iran,
and to actually say exactly what he would do differently from what President Obama is already doing," he told reporters.
Kahl stressed the Obama "had kept the option of military action
on the table and at the ready… but wants to be sure to exhaust diplomatic options.
"If Romney thinks it's time to use military action against Iran and abandon diplomacy prematurely, I think he owes it to the American people to actually say so," Kahl said.
ABC quoted Romney's spokesman Ryan Williams as saying that, "It is clear that President Obama's foreign policy is confused, ineffective, and has weakened our influence in every region of the world.
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