Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who aides say plans sessions with all the serious potential 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls.
Netanyahu’s office said the two “discussed a series of issues, including advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, which will be based on security, and the challenge to the international community posed by the Iranian nuclear program.”
Romney, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the 2008 GOP nomination, has not yet declared he’s running but has laid much of the groundwork for a campaign. He’s been hiring staff and on Wednesday resigned from the board of Marriott International.
Before visiting Israel, Romney traveled to Afghanistan, where he met with President Hamid Karzai and U.S. Gen. David Petraeus. He’ll also visit Jordan and the United Arab Emirates before returning to the US. Aides haven’t disclosed how long he will be in the region.
“The purpose of the trip is not to conduct private diplomacy but to give Governor Romney a first-hand look at what is happening in an important region of the world,” adviser Eric Fernstrohm told the Boston Globe earlier this week.
Romney last visited Israel in 2007 for the annual Herzliya Conference on Israeli security. He and Netanyahu worked together early in their careers as consultants at the Boston Consulting Group.
The Israel leg of his trip is being paid for using personal funds and contributions from the American Israel Education Foundation, which is part of American Israel Public Affairs Committee.