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Mitt Romney is skeptical of the potential for success of next month’s peace conference between Israelis and Palestinians.

The former Massachusetts governor, speaking Tuesday in Washington at a Republican Jewish Coalition forum of GOP presidential candidates, said the influence of Hamas would make the U.S.-sponsored talks untenable.

“How could you possibly have a peace conference at this stage?” he asked. “Who would you talk to?”

Romney called for heavy condemnation of Islamic jihadists throughout the Middle East.

“The real problem is that jihadists want to conquer the world,” he said during a 40-minute speech.

Romney said as president, he would have had Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicted for inciting genocide when he spoke last month at the United Nations General Assembly.

“I do not believe we are not able to deal with Iran militarily,” he said, adding that he would not use ground forces to attack Iran but would take advantage of “blockade, bombardment and surgical military strikes.”

Romney was cautious to avoid criticism of President Bush, stating that regardless of what one might think of the president, “he has kept us safe these last six years.” He also drew a sharp distinction with Democrats, stating that he backed the Bush administration’s interrogation and eavesdropping techniques.

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