Romney calls for "change of course" in Middle East

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Romney calls for "change of course" in Middle East

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Less than a month before the US presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has promised to rein in Iran and rebuild ties with Israel in a major foreign policy address.

Still basking in what pundits say was his win in last week’s presidential TV debate, Romney hit out at President Barack Obama’s handling of the Middle East.

“I know the President hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with us. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds.”

Romney’s speech set out to reframe the 65-year-old as strong presidential material following embarrassing gaffes during recent trips to Europe and Israel.

“I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated,” he said.

Romney also promised to arm Syrian rebels to help win a civil war against the current regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Republican is catching up with Obama in the polls. In one survey by the Pew Research Centre Romney now leads the president by 49 to 45 percent.

The two will go head to head again in the second TV debate on October 16 in New York. The third and final exchange will take place in Florida on October 21.