By Justin Sink
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday morning, his campaign confirmed.
The Republican nominee will place the call sometime in the morning; the move comes amid criticism of President Obama for not meeting with the Israeli leader while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
On Thursday, Netanyahu gave an impassioned speech to the U.N. in which he drew a red line — literally — on an illustration representing Iran's nuclear weapons program.
The Romney campaign issued a statement shortly thereafter expressing support for the Israeli leader.
"I join in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for a Middle East of progress and peace," Romney said. "And I join his urgent call to prevent the gravest threat to that vision — a nuclear-armed Iran. I, like the rest of the American people, applaud the bravery of the people of Israel and stand with them in these dangerous times. The designs of the Iranian regime are a threat to America, Israel, and our friends and allies around the world.”
Romney has emphasized repeatedly his relationship with the Israeli prime minister during the campaign. The two worked at a consulting firm together decades ago — a point Romney mentions frequently in interviews — and Romney met with the Israeli leader during his foreign trip earlier this summer.
The White House has dismissed criticism that the president was shunning Netanyahu, saying the men spoke regularly by phone and noting a visit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday. White House press secretary Jay Carney said he also expects "the president will have a follow-up phone call with the prime minister, probably Friday."
Carney also maintained that Obama and Netanyahu were unable to meet because of scheduling issues.
"As you know, the President has met with and spent time on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu more than with any leader since he took office," Carney said Monday. "And that is reflective of the importance of and the closeness of the relationship between the United States and Israel, the importance of and the priority that the President places on America’s support for Israel’s security, as demonstrated by the unprecedented level of assistance that this administration has provided Israel for its security, the unprecedented level of cooperation between our militaries and intelligence communities in the effort to enhance Israel’s security."