Romney backs Saudi deal with conditions


Mitt Romney said the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia should depend on its support of Israeli-Palestinian peace among other conditions.

The former Massachusetts governor, a front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, addressed this week’s announcement by the Bush administration of a $20 arms deal with the Saudis and their neighbors.

“Saudi Arabia is an important strategic ally,” Romney said in a statement solicited by JTA. “We share mutual interests, particularly in helping dissuade Iran from nuclear ambition. Sale of military equipment is consistent with our relationship. However, prior to a sale of advanced military armaments, it is essential that we reach an understanding with the Saudi government that it will not undermine the elected Iraqi government, that it will support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and that it will not fund Wahhabi schools and mosques that are shown to be incubators of terror.”

The Bush administration proposed the sale as part of a package that would increase defense assistance to Israel. The aim is to create a united front against Iran and draw the Saudis into the recently revived Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Some Democrats in Congress have pledged to block the sale.

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