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Third presidential debate:Candidates highlight strain in ties with Pakistan Last Updated : 23 Oct 2012 11:18:00 AM IST Presidential debate :Obama, Romney vows to stand by Israel against Iran
President Barack Obama said that the US would have had never killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden if he had to seek permission from Pakistan, indicating the sheer lack of trust he has with the Pakistani leadership and its military in particular.
"If we had asked Pakistan for permission, we would not have gotten him. And it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him," Obama said during the last of the three high-stake presidential debates just two weeks before November 6 polls.
Obama said he has delivered what he had promised on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden."When it comes to going after Osama bin Laden, you said, well, any President would make that call. But when you were a candidate in 2008 -- as I was -- and I said, if I got bin Laden in our sights, I would take that shot, you said we shouldn't move heaven and earth to get one man, and you said
we should ask Pakistan for permission," Obama said.
Romney agreed that going after bin Laden without the permission of Pakistan was the right thing to do. "I don't blame the administration for the fact that the relationship with Pakistan is strained. We had to go into Pakistan; we had to go in there to get Osama bin Laden. That was the right thing to do," said the Republican presidential candidate during Af-Pak section of the debate.
Responding to a question, Romney argued despite a strained relationship with Pakistan, the United States can't afford to "divorce" itself with Pakistan, which is a nation of more than a 100 nuclear weapons.
"No, it's not time to divorce a nation on earth that has a hundred nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that atsome point, a nation that has serious threats from terrorist groups within its nation, the Taliban, Haqqani network. It's a nation that's not like others and that does not have a civilian leadership that is calling the shots there," he said.
For the third and last presidential debate,U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney debated on foreign policy issues in Lynn University, Florida on Monday ahead of the November 6 election.
Presidential debate :Obama, Romney vows to stand by Israel against Iran
Both Obama and Romney affirmed their friendship with Israel, with Obama stating Israel "cannot afford" to have nuclear race with Iran, clock is ticking and said "Israel is a true friend, our greatest ally," but denied 'NYT' report citing one-on-one talks.
They can take the diplomatic route and end their nuclear program or they will have to face a united world and a United States president, me, who said we're not going to take any options off the table."
But Romney said he will back Israel militarily but he’ll stop a nuclear-capable Iran.Romney said: "The greatest threat the world faces is a nuclear Iran."
However, both the rivals rejected the idea to keep Pakistan away from United states when it comes to country's foreign policy.
“It is not time to divorce a nation that has 100 nuclear weapons and is a home to terrorism," Romney said.
He also said: "This is a nation which, if it becomes a failed state, there are nuclear weapons there and you have terrorists that can grab those nuclear weapons."
Nuclear missiles in Cuba
Third presidential debate coincides with the 50th anniversary of the night that President Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba — perhaps the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear war. And it is a sobering reminder that every president faces at some point an unexpected threat to our national security from abroad.
With respect to China, China's an adversary and also a potential partner in the international community if it's following the rules," Obama declared, after a cursory nod to the moderator's question.
"So my attitude coming into office was that we are going to insist that China plays by the same rules as everybody else," he added, accusing Romney of failing to oppose the export of US jobs to Chinese manufacturing centers.
Romney almost did not answer the question about the greatest threat at all, beginning an answer on the economy, then darting back briefly to name-check Iran before declaring: "Let's talk about China."
A feisty Obama ridiculed Romney as "all over the map" Monday on foreign policy, accusing him of telling untruths and backing "wrong" policies in their fiercely fought final debate.
Obama criticised Romney's support for beginning the war in Iraq, for opposing his plans to withdraw troops from Iraq, for inconsistent stances on Afghanistan and for opposing nuclear treaties with Russia. "Every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong," Obama said.
On the contrary Romney defended his stances and told Obama that "attacking me is not an agenda" for stopping violence in the Middle East.
President Barack Obama said US, Israel "cannot afford" to have nuclear race with Iran and denied 'NYT' report citing one-on-one talks with Iran ; Romneysaid he will back Israel militarily.
Winning third coin toss in a row Romney got the first question from moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News during the Monday night debate divided into six 15-minute segments focusing on six topics at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
Suggesting that the hopes raised by the Arab spring had been belied and radical violent extremism had taken hold in 10 or 12 countries in the Middle East presenting an "enormous threat to our friends, to the world, to America long term."
While congratulating Obama for taking out Osama bin Laden and going after the leadership in Al Qaeda, Romney said the US "can't kill our way out of this mess" and Washington must have a comprehensive strategy to help reject this kind of extremism.
Obama, in turn, said that he had focused on keeping the American people safe over the last four years, had ended the war in Iraq, refocused attention on those who actually killed on 9/11 and as a consequence, Al Qaeda's core leadership has been decimated.
On Libya, vowing to go after those who killed Americans and bring them to justice, he said Americans took leadership in organising an international coalition that was able to liberate a country that had been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years and got rid of a despot who had killed Americans.
Unlike last week's contentious town hall-style debate in which the candidates ambled around the stage and sparred with each other as they answered questions from the audience made up of 82 undecided voters, Obama and Romney were seated at a table with Schieffer.
India is unlikely to figure in the debate as it's not a contentious issue with both Democrats and Republican claiming credit for transforming India-US ties into a strategic partnership over three administrations starting with former President Bill Clinton.
But it may get a passing mention as the contenders debate America's role in the world, Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan, Red Lines - Israel and Iran, The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - I and The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism - II and The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World.
Monday's debate is crucial for both Obama and Romney as the latest polls continue to show the White House a dead heat just two weeks before the Nov 6 election with Obama maintaining very narrow advantages in crucial battleground states like Ohio.
The latest poll confirming the trend is a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showing the race still deadlocked among likely voters nationally with 49 percent backing Obama and 48 percent favouring Romney.
Obama on LIbya
But I think it’s important to step back and think about what happened in Libya. Now, keep in mind that I and Americans took leadership in organizing an international coalition that made sure that we were able to — without putting troops on the ground, at the cost of less than what we spent in two weeks in Iraq — liberate a country that had been under the yoke of dictatorship for 40 years, got rid of a despot who had killed Americans.
And as a consequence, despite this tragedy, you had tens of thousands of Libyans after the events in Benghazi marching and saying, America’s our friend. We stand with them. Now that represents the opportunity we have to take advantage of. And you know, Governor Romney, I’m glad that you agree that we have been successful in going after al-Qaida, but I have to tell you that, you know, your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map and is not designed to keep Americans safe or to build on the opportunities that exist in the Middle East.
ROMNEY: Well, my strategy’s pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to — to kill them, to take them out of the picture. But my strategy is broader than — than that. That’s — that’s important, of course, but the key that we’re going to have to pursue is a — is a pathway to — to get the Muslim world to be able to reject extremism on its own. We don’t want another Iraq. We don’t want another Afghanistan. That’s not the right course for us. The right course for us is to make sure that we go after the — the people who are leaders of these various anti-American groups and these — these jihadists, but also help the Muslim world.
And how we do that? A group of Arab scholars came together, organized by the U.N., to look at how we can help the — the world reject these — these terrorists. And the answer they came up was this.
One, more economic development, better education,gender equality. the rule of law.
But what’s been happening over the last couple years as we watched this tumult in the Middle East, this rising tide of chaos occur, you see al-Qaida rushing in, you see other jihadist groups rushing in.
ON AL QAEDA THREAT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al-Qaida’s a threat because a few months ago when you were asked, what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia — not al-Qaida, you said Russia. And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.
But, Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s. You say that you’re not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq, but just a few weeks ago you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now.
And the — the challenge we have — I know you haven’t been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you’ve offered an opinion, you’ve been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq despite the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction. You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day. You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.Source: IANS, Other Agencies, Staff Reporters
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